YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia will not back renewed discussions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), championed by a Turkish politician, until it clarifies their details and purpose, a senior lawmaker said on Friday.
Shortly after being elected as president of the Strasbourg-based assembly in January, Mevlut Cavusoglu sought to revive and lead a PACE subcommittee tasked with facilitating a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He has argued that the existence of such a body is envisaged by a 2005 PACE resolution.
Armenia’s leading pro-government and opposition forces are concerned that the subcommittee will not be impartial in its work because of the PACE chief’s nationality. They argue that Turkey continues to lend strong and unconditional support to Azerbaijan and cite pro-Azerbaijani statements made by Cavusoglu in the past. The latter dismissed these concerns during a two-day visit to Yerevan this week.
According to David Harutiunian, a senior pro-government parliamentarian heading the Armenian parliamentary delegation at the PACE, Armenian, Azerbaijani and PACE officials are currently discussing the precise mission of the subcommittee in the question.
“The purpose of the consultations is to try to understand what we are going to do, how we can assist in the process [of the conflict’s resolution] and what we should do,” Harutiunian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. The subcommittee will not resume its work, frozen in 2008, until those consultations are over, he said.
Harutiunian, who also chairs the Armenian parliament’s committee on state and legal affairs, added that the Armenian side is trying to clarify the goals of the PACE panel and practical modalities of its work. “And until there is agreement on this issue, I think we will not get results,” he said.
Speaking at a news conference in Yerevan on Thursday, Cavusoglu insisted that the decision to kick-start PACE discussions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute was taken by other Council of Europe officials months before his election. The PACE president, who a member of Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party, promised to take the Armenian concerns into consideration even if he does not agree with them.