YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The Council of Europe–on January 25–welcomed Armenia and Azerbaijan as new member states–during a special ceremony for the occasion of their admittance. President Kocharian left for Strasbourg on January 24–to participate in the ceremony.
CE Secretary General–Walter Shwimmer–opened the ceremony stating that the Caucasian republic’s accession furthered the council’s founders vision of "seeing all European nations unified in one family." Thereafter–Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian handed over to the CE secretary general–the CE Charter and–who put his signature to it and confirmed Armenia’s membership to the CE. Armenian and Azerbaijanian Foreign Ministers–Vardan Oskanian and Vilayat Guliyev signed the European Charter of Human Rights. The signing ceremony was followed by the two president’s speeches.
The national flags of Armenia and Azerbaijan were hoisted in front of the CE building–and the two countries anthems were performed.
From now on–the Armenian delegation will be participating in PACE meetings as a full member. Armenia will have four seats in the assembly and Azerbaijan six.
Armenia and Azerbaijan become the 42nd and 43rd members of the European body for human rights and democracy. Kocharian and Aliyev also signed the European Human Rights Convention.