OSCE Secretary General warns of anti-democratic decline in Armenia

Council of Europe Spokesperson and Press Division
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Secretary General warns of anti-democratic decline in Armenia and appeals
for dialogue

Strasbourg, 14.04.2004 – Following a meeting with the Permanent
Representative of Armenia to the Council of Europe yesterday evening,
Secretary General Walter Schwimmer expressed his concern about reported
violence in Armenia.

“There is incomplete and conflicting news of excessive use of force by the
police, of arrests – including of members of parliament – and of a media
blackout”, said Walter Schwimmer. “This confirms one thing: if there was
complete freedom of the media, we would have a clear picture of the
situation”, he added.

Recalling the strong position taken by the Parliamentary Assembly against
the use of arbitrary procedures for detention, as foreseen in the
Administrative Code, the Secretary General said that such detentions would
not be acceptable.

The Secretary General of the 45-member human rights organisation warned
against an anti-democratic decline in Armenia. “In a democracy, people are
free to gather and express their views – even if they are critical of the
President or of the government”, said Mr Schwimmer. “I call on the Armenian
authorities to guarantee all human rights which are protected under the
European Convention on Human Rights”.

“Today’s problems are partly caused by the lack of modern legislation, which
it would be possible to introduce before changing the Constitution. For this
and for other reasons, Armenia has already lost precious time for reform”,
he continued.

“I appeal to all political forces to refrain from violence, to resume
dialogue and to focus on democratic reform”, the Secretary General

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