PACE summer session set to discuss Georgia, Armenia, Kosovo

By RIA Novosti,

Strasbourg : The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will discuss a number of issues during its summer session June 23-27, including Kosovo, Georgia’s elections, Azerbaijan and recent protests in Armenia.

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Although Kosovo is expected to be the center of attention with Serbian President Boris Tadic due to address the assembly on Thursday, Armenia’s February presidential elections and the ensuing violence and crackdown by the authorities on the opposition and public meetings are planned for discussion in an urgent debate.

Ten people were killed, 265 injured and over 100 arrested in clashes between police and opposition protesters in Yerevan March 1, when protests turned violent following President Serzh Sarkisyan’s victory in the February 19 presidential elections.

PACE co-rapporteurs, who visited Armenia June 16-17, said that insufficient progress had been made in carrying out the EU’s demands urging institutional reforms, less state interference in the media and more rights for opposition groups.

Democratic institutions in Azerbaijan, protecting the environment on the Caspian Sea and Georgia’s parliamentary elections are also on the agenda at the Council of Europe meeting.

The head of the State Duma’s international affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachyov, said “the report [on Georgia’s elections] will be extremely hard-hitting for Georgia’s authorities,” but failed to elaborate further.

The five-day session could also see the Council of Europe discuss a future report on the 1931-33 famine in the former Soviet Union which affected millions of people in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, as well as Russia’s grain producing regions of the North Caucasus, Urals, West Siberia and the Volga Region.

In April, during PACE’s spring session, the Assembly supported a move by a number of Ukrainian politicians, that the famine or Holodomor be considered an act of genocide against Ukrainians by the Soviet authorities. Ukraine is planning to draft a document on the Holodomor.

Russia’s delegation, however, wants a joint document to all the estimated 7 million victims of the famine following the brutal introduction of collectivization by Soviet authorities. Europe has given its approval for the drafting of a joint document, but Ukraine is insisting the famine be considered as separate acts.

Kosachyov said: “A key decision to draft a joint document has been made, but no decision as yet on the document’s title, and, more importantly, on the authors.”