On January 27, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution titled “The functioning of democratic institutions in Armenia”, which was voted against by member of the Armenian delegation Hayk Mamijanyan. This became the subject of heated discussions and criticism in a significant part of the Armenian press and social media.
Especially the members or supporters of the ruling “Civil Contract” party sharply criticized Mamijanyan’s vote, emphasizing that besides Mamijanyan, the representatives of Turkey and Azerbaijan voted against the pro-Armenian resolution. Some mentioned that Mamijanyan’s behavior was “unprecedented.”
The Fact Investigation Platform decided to find out whether Mamijanyan’s vote was unprecedented and whether the opposition and pro-government MPs of the Armenian delegation to the PACE had previously been united in voting on resolutions on Armenia’s domestic issues.
Brief notes on the “pro-Armenian” resolution
The Armenian press mainly referred to the resolution with positive headlines, describing it as pro-Armenian. The resolution took note of “marked progress in democratic development” since 2018. In particular, the process of electoral, judicial and anti-corruption reforms in the country is positively assessed, and it is noted that the political crisis following the second Artsakh war in 2020 was resolved through free and fair elections.
The PACE describes the post-war events, in particular demonstrators storming the parliament and government buildings on the night of November 9-10, 2020, as an “attempt to overthrow the constitutional order” in the country. The Assembly also notes that Armenia has successfully overcome the serious political crisis triggered by the outcome of the Nagorno-Karabakh armed conflict.
In addition to the assessment of the domestic political issues in Armenia, the resolution also touches upon the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, in particular, the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and the situation created after the recent war. The Assembly once again calls for the release of the Armenian prisoners of war held in Azerbaijan, protection of the Armenian cultural and religious heritage in Nagorno Karabakh, also calling for а just and lasting resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.
You can learn more about the resolution at UIC.am.
Mamijanyan’s vote was not unprecedented
The Fact Investigation Platform studied how the Armenian delegations voted on the resolutions on the domestic political situation in the country since Armenia became a member of the PACE. It turns out that in the past our delegates were not always united in their votes․ Opposition and pro-government MPs repeatedly voted differently at PACE.
In particular, referring to the events of March 1 in the 2008 report on the functioning of democratic institutions in Europe, PACE stressed the need to improve the electoral process and restore public confidence in elections, recorded violence against the opposition, restrictions on freedom of speech, etc.
Armen Rustamyan from the ARF Dashnaktsutyun, a member of the ruling coalition at the time, voted against this problematic resolution for the Armenian authorities, while Raffi Hovannisian from the opposition Heritage faction and Davit Harutyunyan from the Republican Party abstained.
In 2009, during the voting of another problematic resolution referring to March 1 events, the Armenian delegation did not have a common position․ Heritage faction MP Zaruhi Postanjyan voted in favor of the resolution, while ARF Dashnaktsutyun MP Armen Rustamyan, Republican MP Davit Harutyunyan and PAP member Naira Zohrabyan voted against.
In similar resolutions on the functioning of democratic institutions in Armenia adopted in 2009 and 2011, the Assembly again referred to the events of March 1. In the first resolution, the PACE welcomed the improvement of the criminal legislation, and in the second, the establishment of an inquiry commission to investigate the events of March 1, as well as the amnesty of those convicted after those events. Armen Rustamyan abstained during the voting on the first resolution, while Naira Zohrabyan and Davit Harutyunyan voted in favor of the resolution. As for the second one, Rustamyan, Zohrabyan and Harutyunyan voted in favor, while Postanjyan abstained.
As for the resolutions favorable for the current government, the one submitted by the PACE Monitoring Committee in 2013, which positively assessed the February 18 presidential elections, was voted against by Levon Zurabyan, a member of the Armenian delegation, unlike the ruling representative of the ruling majority Naira Karapetyan. The resolution stated that the 2013 presidential elections in Armenia “were well organized, fundamental freedoms were respected during the elections, and they testify to a clear improvement of the electoral process in the country.”
In 2014, Levon Zurabyan voted against, and Armen Rustamyan, MP from the opposition ARF Dashnaktsutyun faction, abstained from voting on the resolution related to the constitutional reform process in Armenia, which stated that the process was taking place in an environment of a broad political consensus and was aimed at consolidating the checks and balances between the three branches of power.
In another instance, which is not directly related to the PACE voting, the activity of the opposition MP Zaruhi Postanjyan was sharply criticized by the Armenian authorities and the government supporters. After the speech of the third President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan at the plenary session of the PACE autumn session 2013, during a question-and-answer session with the MPs, Postanjyan stated that Sargsyan appeared in the PACE “due to organized crime as a result of stealing the Armenian people’s vote on February 18.” The opposition MP then accused Sargsyan of gambling and asked if he had lost 70 million euros in one of the European casinos and who had paid the money.
Thus, we can state that the Armenian opposition and pro-government delegates have repeatedly expressed opposing positions in the voting on PACE resolutions referring to the domestic political events in Armenia, and the January 27 vote of the opposition MP Hayk Mamijanyan is not unprecedented.