Mevlut Cavusoglu

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Dashnaks To Snub Turkish Head Of PACE

11.05.2010 Karine Kalantarian The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) pointedly refused on Tuesday to meet with Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish president of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), during his upcoming visit to Yerevan.

The nationalist opposition party attributed the snub to his apparent refusal to visit a Yerevan memorial to more than one million Armenians massacred by Ottoman Turks in 1915-1918 in what many historians consider a genocide.

Cavusoglu will arrive in Yerevan on Wednesday for a two-day visit that will focus on Armenia’s compliance with its Council of Europe membership commitments. He is scheduled to meet with President Serzh Sarkisian, parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian as well as leaders of political parties represented in the Armenian parliament and the extra-parliamentary opposition.

According to Dashnaktsutyun, the PACE chief has informed the Armenian authorities that he will not visit the Armenian genocide memorial. Government sources confirmed the information. A wreathe-laying ceremony at the Tsitsernakabert memorial is normally part of the itinerary of foreign dignitaries visiting the country.

In a letter to Abrahamian, Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary leader, Vahan Hovannisian, condemned Cavusoglu’s decision, saying that it is “inappropriate for the head of an authoritative international organization.”

“Representatives of the PACE leadership have never shown such a disrespectful attitude before, regardless of whether or not their countries recognize the Armenian Genocide,” wrote Hovannisian. “In effect, Mr. Cavusoglu is making no secret of the fact that he is visiting Armenia not so much as head of the PACE as a Turkish politician. In these circumstances, our faction does not find it expedient to meet with him.”

In a separate interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Hovannisian urged other parliament factions to do the same. “Naturally, Cavusoglu was always going to be a Turkish president [of the PACE] and place Turkish interests above everything else,” he said. “For no Turkish politician has reached the level of European broad-mindedness and will reach it in the foreseeable future.”

Parliamentary representatives of the governing Republican, Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Orinats Yerkir parties made clear, however, that they will not snub the Turkish parliamentarian.

Aram Safarian, a senior BHK lawmaker, told RFE/RL that members of his faction will tell Cavusoglu that they are deeply suspicious of his efforts to have the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict discussed at the Strasbourg-based assembly. “We see this as being part of Turkey’s continuing efforts to mediate in a conflict where its positions towards our country are not balanced and impartial,” Safarian said, referring to Ankara’s unconditional support for Azerbaijan.

Another parliamentary force, the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, was due to decide later on Tuesday whether to meet Cavusoglu. One of its leaders, Stepan Safarian, spoke out in favor of such a meeting. He said Zharangutyun lawmakers should use it to express their “attitudes to and resentment with” the Turkish government’s policies on Armenia.

Another, more influential opposition group, the Armenian National Congress (HAK), also agreed to hold talks with the visiting the PACE head. But it was not clear whether the bloc’s top leader, former Levon Ter-Petrosian, will be in attendance.


STRASBOURG. - The Winter Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) got underway Monday in Strasbourg, France.

And PACE Bureau session was held in the morning, member of Armenia's delegation at PACE, and the ruling coalition's Prosperous Armenia Party MP, Naira Zohrabyan told Armenian, from Strasbourg.

"The infamous Subcommittee on Karabakh presented a one-page program, whereby proposing to the Bureau that the Subcommittee's activities continue this year as well. Our member at the Bureau is [the coalition's Republican Party of Armenia] RPA representative Hermine Naghdalyan, who presented the Armenian side's viewpoint that the activity of such subcommittee is unacceptable. Ms. Naghdalyan motioned that the matter be included in the discussions of another day, when the new Bureau is elected. But Turkey's representative Mevlut Cavusoglu was moderating the Bureau's morning session, and the Bureau decided to continue with the Subcommittee's activities in 2012, too," Zohrabyan noted, and added: "This has no importance for us. The Armenian delegation will continue to boycott [the Subcommittee]."

In Naira Zohrabyan's words, PACE's session has a very busy agenda. She informed that the tenure of Thomas Hammarberg, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, is coming to an end, and that three candidates-from Belgium, Lithuania, and the Netherlands-are nominated for this office.

And Monday's session is already being moderated by PACE's new President, Jean-Claude Mignon from France, who replaced Mevlut Cavusoglu, on the same day, who had presided over PACE for the past two years, Naira Zohrabyan also informed.

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