A1+/To be or not to be?

Interview with GRIGOR AMALYAN, Head of the National Committee on Television and Radio
   “Mr. Amalyan, are there any justifications to the claims that ‘A1+’ has won the case and proved its righteousness in the European Court of Human Rights?”
   “First of all, it is necessary to find out why ‘Meltex’ company lodged an appeal with the European Court, and what decisions the latter made and only then estimate which party won the case. And there are really victories and hence – occasions for congratulating the winner

   It was many years ago that I insisted, in one of the interviews to ‘Hayots Ashkharh’, that the party most interested in the outcome of the case was the Republic of Armenia and particularly, our committee. Now, the European Court provided a final and clear-cut answer to all the questions which had been a subject of inappropriate speculations for many years on end.
   In clause 6 of the case, “Meltex” LLC gave an overall picture of the pressures and harassments used against it in 1994-1995. The European Court did not make any decision in this regard; however, it formed a general idea about our country. In particular, the court substantiated the fact that “A1+” was deprived of a license with political considerations in 1995, prior to the presidential elections.
   “Meltex” attributed its defeat in 2002 and failures in the subsequent contests to this story. There were two claimants: “Meltex” LLC and Mesrop Movsisyan. Under clause 68, the European Court established that the latter could not be considered an aggrieved party in the frameworks of this particular case.
   It was alleged in the claim that there were violations under Articles 10 (freedom of speech), 6 (fair trial) and 14 (non-discrimination clause) of the European Convention. As a result of relevant studies, the European Court clearly concluded and stated in its decision that there were no violations of procedural rights. I believe this will put an end to the libels and speculations addressed to our country’s judicial system for so many years. This is really a victory, and I congratulate both “Meltex” and the whole Armenian people on this occasion.
   There were also discussions on political discriminations against “A1+”, and this also served as a factor for compromising the Republic of Armenia. In clause 97 of its decision, the European Court underlined that it hadn’t displayed a discriminatory attitude to “Meltex”. In this way, the “tool” used many times in the past with the purpose of inciting a clash was actually eliminated. I express my congratulations on this victory too.
   It was mentioned in the claim that our committee worked illegally, not recognizing “Meltex” a winner as a result of the contest. Whereas, in clause 82 of its decision, the European Court definitely stated that our committee worked in compliance with the existing laws of that period. Our committee is an executive body, and it’s not entitled to editing the laws or applying them at its own will under any circumstances. If this is what “Meltex” considers to be its victory, I express my greetings both to the company and our committee. I also hope that there will no longer be any libels addressed to our committee or our country. For us, this decision of the European Court is the same as the 1953 Universal Acquittal Act for an individual convicted in 1937 under the charges of being the “enemy of the people”.
   According to “Meltex”, we violated Article 10 (the right to freedom of speech) of the Convention, not recognizing the company as a winner in the 2002 contest and failing to substantiate our decision. However, there was no such requirement contained in Article 57 which was in effect at the time, and naturally, we acted within the law. Nevertheless, the European Court added that this might restrict the claimant’s right to freedom of speech, and it envisaged compensation in the amount of 20 thousand Euros for “Meltex” LLC in addition to a sum of 10 thousand Euros for covering the defense costs.
   Here, too, the winner is the Republic of Armenia, since under the amendment introduced into the law in 2003, it is necessary to substantiate the decisions of the committee. Whereas “Meltex” applied to the European Court in 2004 when our National Assembly had already bridged the existing legislative gap without an extra mediation, coercion or proposal.”
   “Mr. Amalyan, what goal did ‘Meltex’ pursue, and what did it achieve? How do you estimate the outcome of the court procedures?”
   “In the appeal lodged with the European Court of Human Rights, ‘Meltex’ LLC claimed material damage in the amount of 357 thousand 828 US Dollars. The structural components of the “damage” were the unpaid incomes, compensations for contractual terminations and the loss of the unused equipment. In its decision, the European Court directly labeled the formulation of the unpaid incomes and missed chances as a speculative claim. As to the other two formulations, they were considered unfounded. That’s to say, the claim was an attempt of receiving (if not extorting) a very large from the Republic of Armenia through a speculation.
   There was also a claim for the compensation of the non-material damage which, according to the estimations of ‘Meltex’, made up 50 thousand US Dollars. However, there was no documentary evidence, and some costs were unnecessary. Therefore, the European Court satisfied the claim in the amount of 10-20 thousand Euros.”
   “Mr. Amalyan, Mesrop Movsisyan claims that under the decision of the European Court, ‘A1+’ company should be given airtime without delay. Does this imply a new contest or are you going to give them airtime on a new frequency?”
   “I consider that the decision on withdrawing a license from a TV company before the expiry date and granting it to another company is strange. ‘A1+’ fully exercised its competences with respect to the frequency; all the rights of the company were exhausted upon the expiry of the terms of the license.
   The Council of Europe could not have made an illegal decision and demanded that “A1+” be given airtime immediately. It is impossible to violate the Constitution, the right to a free competition and a number of laws just in order to give airtime to someone. PACE Resolution # 1620 calls on the licensing body to take into consideration the decision of the European Court and ensure an open, free and transparent contest.


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Filed under armenia, Democracy, opposition

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