YEREVAN (Armenpress)-The Speaker of Armenia’s Parliament Tigran Torosian was in Strasbourg Thursday where he met with Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis as well as other Parliamentary heads of the Council’s member countries.
Torosian brought the secretary general up to speed on Armenia’s progress in implementing the reforms required by PACE resolution 1609.
He spoke about the ad hoc parliamentary commission set up to address the recommendations forwarded by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly. The group has already submitted proposals on every provision of the Resolution.
Armenia’s Parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to amend a law curbing political demonstrations passed in the wake of political unrest in Yerevan following Armenia’s presidential elections.
The events of March 1 shocked everyone, Torosian said. Armenia has seen numerous rallies since it gained independence but none had resulted in such an outcome.
But the tragic events of that day could not stem from people’s social discontent, he explained, pointing to the steady rise in living during recent years and the 60 percent increase in pensions, and other salaries and wages registered in January.
He explained that accusations that police used force against demonstrators oversimplifies the situation. According to him, there is video footage of demonstrators armed with Molotov cocktails and metal rods, who used grenades and plundered shops near the scene of the protests.
Davis welcomed creation of the parliament commission and agreed with Torosian that those who committed grave crimes must be punished. No one, however, must be persecuted for his or her political views, he stressed.
Torosian also met Thursday with the President of the Cypriot Parliament Marios Garoyan. During their meeting, Torosian told Garoyan, who is of Armenian descent, that he hoped that relations between the two countries and their parliamen’s would grow even stronger in the coming years.
Torosian said Cyprus’s experience in joining the EU is important for Armenia because integration with Europe is a priority for Armenian foreign policy.
Garoyan similarly expressed hope that relations between the two countries would deepen. He said his Armenian origins are a major factor behind his country’s closer ties with Armenia.