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Armenian Opposition Criticizes Council Of Europe's Parliament

PACE was set to discuss Armenia's use of force against opposition protesters after the February 2008 election.
YEREVAN -- The opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) says the Council of Europe has become less concerned with rights abuses in Armenia lately because of President Serzh Sarkisian's Western-backed policies on Turkey and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Levon Zurabian, the HAK's central office coordinator, told RFE/RL that some unnamed foreign diplomats have told the party that because of the ongoing Turkish-Armenian reconciliation and talks over a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, it would be "unproductive to distract the Armenian leadership with other issues."

The criticism follows a failure by the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) to hold a discussion on the political situation in Armenia at a meeting held in Paris on December 17. The committee was due to specifically look into an Armenian parliamentary report that largely justified the use of deadly force against opposition protesters following the disputed presidential election in February 2008.

Zaruhi Postanjian, the only opposition member of the Armenian delegation in PACE, said the discussion was cancelled because PACE's two rapporteurs on Armenia, John Prescott and Georges Colombier, failed to show up for the meeting.

Postanjian told RFE/RL from Paris that they did missed the meeting intentionally to prevent PACE from discussing Yerevan's compliance with resolutions on Armenia at its next session due in late January.

The rapporteurs' behavior was defended by Eduard Sharmazanov, the spokesman for President Serzh Sarkisian's Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). He accused the opposition of continuing to "exploit" the 2008 postelection unrest for political purposes.