STRASBOURG (ArmRadio)–Armenia’s Government will do everything in its power to strengthen democracy at home, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said Wednesday during his speech in Strasbourg at the 118th session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
"Our country has still a great deal of work to do but we are confident that we can overcome the challenges and continue the course of reform," he said.
Today, Armenia’s major challenge is the need to expand on the democratic developmen’s made in the last decade, Nalbandian explained at the ministerial meeting.
"We have made certain progress in this regard but we realize that there is still much to do and believe that by making the necessary efforts, we shall overcome all our difficulties," he stressed. "We will be more resolute and continue the reforms, not only because we are responsible for doing so, or because our friends want us to, but because it is the only logical choice for the government and its people."
The Armenian Foreign Minister also met Wednesday with the heads of two major European Human Rights Watchdogs to discuss the his governmen’s recent steps to implement greater democratic reforms in the country.
During separate meetings with the EU Commissioner for Human Rights Tomas Hammarberg and the President of the European Court of Human Rights Jean-Paul Costa, Nalbandian explained that Armenia’s Government has formed an ad-hoc commission to tackle the countries democratic shortfalls. The commission will work to implement a series of far reaching reforms, including the recommendations outlined by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in April.
The PACE resolution, adopted on April 17, threatened to suspend Armenia’s voting rights within the body if far-reaching political reforms are not implemented in the country. The Armenian authorities early last week accepted the Council of Europe’s recommendations to restore full civil liberties restricted in the wake of last February’s disputed presidential election.
Nalbandian assured them that Armenia’s government was ready to deepen its cooperation with both Human Rights watchdogs.
The Armenian Foreign Minister expressed to Hammarberg his appreciation for the current level of human rights cooperation that exists between Armenia and the Council of Europe and noted that the Armenian Government takes seriously the suggestions made by EU Commissioner during his recent visit to Armenia.
During his discussions with the Commissioner Costa, Nalbandian stressed Armenia’s readiness to continue deepening the cooperation with the European Court of Human Rights.
Nalbandian also met on Wednesday with the OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaud where he discussed current issues of the Karabakh Conflict settlement process. Nalbandian and Perrin de Brichambaud also discussed cooperation with the OSCE, as well as questions related to the report on the Armenian presidential elections issued by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR).
Nalbandian’s meeting with his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mamedyarov and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs was also discussed. Nalbandian noted that Armenia appreciates the efforts of the Co-Chairs and is ready to continue negotiations on the basis of the proposals presented by the Minsk Group to the parties in Madrid.
A tradition of close cooperation has been established between the Armenia’side and the OSCE Office in Yerevan, Nalbandian said, adding that Armenia opposes any steps that may contradict the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and distort the essence of the talks.