New Situation in PACE: What are Armenia’s Opportunities and Challenges?

 

The winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is taking place in new, changed conditions since it is necessary to eliminate the negative impact left by the notorious president of the PACE Pedro Agramunt.

One of the most important events of the session was the choice of Italian Mikelé Nicoletti as President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). In October 2017, PACE President Pedro Agramunt, who appeared in many corruption scandals, was forced to resign. In an unprecedented situation, the head of the Cyprus delegation, Stella Kiriakides, was temporarily elected to chair the autumn session. Now, newly elected Mikele Nicoletti will be the president of the PACE for one year and with the possibility of taking the office once again. In fact, he assumes the presidency of the PACE in a rather complicated period: complicated both by the image of the council as a whole and by the corruption scandals against individual parliamentarians.

At the same time, it should be noted that before being elected, Nicoletti was quite active in his speeches against the scandalous Pedro Agramunt, demanding his removal from the post of the PACE President. In addition, the Italian parliamentarian is involved in the fight against corruption in the PACE and has also contributed to the creation of an independent investigative body concerning corruption cases of the current and former members of the PACE.

Taking into account these changes and the new situation in the PACE, one can assert that for the Armenian delegation of PACE both opportunities and challenges are being created.

In fact, Azerbaijan’s policy aimed at promoting its own interests through the caviar diplomacy will not have the same success. Azerbaijani authorities, being deprived of Agramunt’s support in PACE, as well as failing to lobby for their own interests, are likely to appeal to their PACE policy review, trying to find new grounds for motivating parliamentarians from different countries. At the same time, the means spent for PACE, apparently, Baku will now direct to other parliamentary structures to advance the Azerbaijani interests, which can create new problems for us.

Nevertheless, the weakening of Azerbaijani influence and corruption in the PACE creates a good opportunity for the Armenian delegation. In order to strengthen its own position, to advance the state and national interests, it is necessary that the Armenian parliamentarians considerably increase their initiative in the structure and in various bodies, while at the same time raising the efficiency of other parliamentary diplomacy instruments. A separate aspect of the initiative should be considered the impartial investigation of PACE current and former parliamentarians (not only concerning Baku, but in general). By the way, in this regard it is noteworthy that the Council of Europe has already launched an investigation against the member of the Bosnian Parliament and member of the PACE Delegation Militia Markovic, who once authored the anti-Armenian report on the Sarsang reservoir. Markovic is suspected of submitting biased information in favour of Azerbaijan.

Narek Minasyan