On January 26, 1996, the Council of Europe decision to grant Armenia observer status came in the wake of Russian admittance as a full-fledged member into the same body. Yet the approval of Armenia’s status took four years of arduous evaluation and analysis by the Council, which included a fact-finding mission to Armenia by an official delegation in November 1995.
Heading that delegation was Netherlands National Assembly member Hanneke Haldebrum, who also was part of the Council’s observer mission sent to Armenia during last July’s parliamentary elections and referendum.
In an interview with the Armenian section of Radio Liberty, Haldebrum explained that in order for Armenia to become a full-fledged member of the Council of Europe, it must send an official letter of intent, and formulate its parliamentary delegation comprised of four representatives, one of whom must be a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutyun.
In a report explaining the Council’s position on admitting Armenia as an observer, the Council of Europe said that “the cultural similarities between Armenia and Europe stem from the reality that Armenia has always accepted European moral and intellectual values… Armenia has adopted Hellenism and later Christianity, it has experienced an democratic renaissance in the 19th century, has been a victim of genocide, and finally has rejected totalitarianism in the late 20th century.”
The report also addressed Armenia’s current judicial system, calling it a remnant of Soviet society, and it condemned the apparent collusion between the judicial and executive branches of the government, citing the processes involved with the suspension of the ARF in Armenia as examples of those inequities which must be adjusted.
February 1996, Volume 1.1(1)