YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"Armenia is unlikely to be admitted to the Council of Europe this year," Chairman of the "Helsinki Association" human rights organization Mikael Danielian told a news conference March 28. "I do not think that the Council of Europe is a holy place–but to become a member of this organization–a country should meet certain requiremen’s. I do not object to Armenia’s becoming a member of this organization–but I believe that we are not worthy of being admitted to the Council of Europe," Danielian said.
According to him–the statemen’s made by Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Foreign Relations Committee Hovhannes Novhannissian that the Armenian delegation to the CE Parliamentary Assembly has its working-room do not correspond to the facts. "It is not true. There is no room there; I made sure." Danielian said that despite Hovhannissian’s repeated statemen’s concerning Armenia’s admission to the CE–the public has not been provided with detailed information of the conditions of Armenia’s admission to the CE.
Danielian pointed out that the human rights situation in Armenia has not significantly improved from last year; Jehovah’s Witnesses are still convicted for refusing to serve in the army–refugees are pressured to serve in the army–and recruits from Armenia are sent to Nagorno Karabakh. "The law is above all. If the law does not stipulate that our youths must serve in Nagorno Karabakh–they must not serve there."
Danielian reported that the organization is planning to monitor Armenia’s penitentiary system and addressed a pertinent letter to the Minister of the Interior. However the Ministry of the Interior’s response surprised Danielian; it said that a visit to remand prison No. 1 is currently inadvisable. The organization members stated that they did not intend to visit that particular remand prison–but a number of penitentiary institutions. Danielian said that a new letter will be addressed to relevant bodies.