Friday, 11 April 2008

US Helsinki Commission to hold hearing on Armenia

I suppose, this initiative should be viewed as part of continuing efforts by EU and US to bring sides of Armenia's stand-off into the dialogue (just look at the names of those who would "testify"). Wednesday meeting of EU's Semneby and US's Bryza with the wives of political prisoners in Armenia some consider as a sign of their soon to be expected release.

Press Release
(Washington, D.C.) Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), will hold a hearing entitled, “Armenia after the Election,” on Thursday, April 17 at 2:00 p.m. in room B-318 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Since the February 19 presidential election, Armenia has experienced its most serious political crisis in over a decade. The March 1 confrontation between the authorities and supporters of the opposition resulted in at least eight fatalities and the imposition of a state of emergency, causing serious damage to Armenia’s reputation. Although Prime Minister Serzh Sarkissian has been elected President, some opposition leaders refuse to recognize the outcome and government opposition relations remain tense. The state of emergency has been lifted but restrictions on freedom of assembly continue in effect.

The hearing will focus on the ramifications of these developments for Armenia and the United States, especially the ongoing Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia's qualifications for assistance from the Millennium Challenge Account.

Testifying before the Commission will be:

Mr. Matthew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs

Mr. Vigen Sargsian, Assistant to the President of the Republic of Armenia

Mr. Arman Grigorian, Spokesman for former President Levon Ter-Petrossian

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.


Anonymous said...

Funny to see Alcee Hastings' name in connection with the South Caucasus these days. In January he was heading the OSCE short-term election observation mission in Georgia, for example.

However, in the U.S. he is better known as being one of the few judges to be impeached and removed for corruption (he took a $150,000 bribe) and perjury.

I'm still surprised the Georgian opposition never picked up on that one. Still, in a region such as the South Caucasus, maybe they were simply confused why anyone in the U.S. would be shocked a judge took a bribe.


Anyway, I wonder if he'll next turn up in Georgia again next month or in Azerbaijan in October.

artmika said...

Thanks for the info, Onnik. I had no idea about his persona. I wonder how he escaped from being imprisoned for taking a bribe and perjury?!

But then again, I am not too surprised. As I said earlier, some in the UK were shocked to hear that John Prescott came to Armenia as Europe's chief negotiator... And I am sure there are other examples too. No wonder that their missions do not achieve much, quite the contrary...

Anonymous said...

I wonder how he escaped from being imprisoned for taking a bribe and perjury?!

And also that he later was able to become a Congressman... ;-)

Anyway, this is all I could find on Wikipedia so perhaps I'm being a little unfair, but anyway.

Hastings filed suit in federal court claiming that his impeachment trial was invalid because he was tried by a Senate committee, not in front of the full Senate, and that he had been acquitted in a criminal trial.

However, even though a criminal trial found him not guilty, investigations everyone else appears to think differently.

In spite of Hastings' not guilty verdict, Terrell Hodges, the chief federal judge of Florida's Middle District, and Anthony Alaimo, a Georgia judge, filed a complaint with the Judicial Council of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals urging a separate investigation into the matter. The Eleventh Circuit complied, hiring former Justice Department attorney John Doar to lead an investigative team made up of the appeals courts judges and three U.S. District judges. After an investigation that lasted nearly four years, Doar came back with an extensive report suggesting that Hastings had not only solicited a bribe, but also lied repeatedly under oath at his trial. ("Judge's Impeachment Urged," Washington Post, June 19, 1983)

Anyway, more information than any of us probably would like to know is at:

artmika said...

Very telling, Onnik. After all, there are many common grounds between Armenia and the US ;)

Armen Filadelfiatsi said...

And Cardin helped Clinton pass NAFTA. Sounds like both of these guys are the type that are sympathetic to the Kocharians of the world.