PACE President Mevlüt Çavusoglu will make a visit to Armenia on 12-13 May, during which he will meet the President of the Republic Serzh Sargsyan, the President of the National Assembly Hovik Abrahamyan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandyan, members of different political factions represented in the National Assembly, and the extra-parliamentary opposition.
He will also meet Davit Harutyunyan, Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the Assembly on State and Legal Affairs, responsible for the monitoring of implementation of the recommendations proposed by the ad hoc Committee of the Assembly to inquire into the events of 1-2 March 2008. Talks are also scheduled with the Ombudsman, and with members of the diplomatic community and civil society.
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.
No visit to Tsitsernakaberd is scheduled, since Mevlüt Çavusoglu is going to pay a working visit to Armenia, Head of the Public Relations Department of the Armenian National Assembly Gohar Poghosyan told ”Radiolur.”
“Çavusoglu is going to have only working meetings, nothing else is envisaged,” she added, underlining that officials usually visit Matenadaran, Tsitsernakaberd and other places during official visits.
According to Gohar Poghosyan, ARF Dashnaktsutyun has said it will boycott the meeting with Mevlüt Çavusoglu, if the latter fails to visit Tsitsernakaberd.
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 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.