CANADA URGES ARMENIA TO LIFT STATE OF EMERGENCY

Agence France Presse
March 5 2008

OTTAWA (AFP) - Canada's foreign affairs minister on Wednesday urged
Armenia to lift a state of emergency declared on the weekend, and
respect "fundamental freedoms" of protestors.

Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier said in a statement: "It is
the democratic right of people everywhere to gather and express their
views so long as this is done in a peaceful manner."

"We urge the government of Armenia to respect these fundamental
freedoms by lifting the state of emergency as soon as possible,"
he said.

As well, Bernier added: "Canada urges Armenians of all political
affiliations to seek solutions to their current differences within
the framework of their democratic institutions."

Armenia's President Robert Kocharian declared the 20-day state of
emergency in Yerevan on Saturday after eight people died in street
battles between riot police and opposition supporters protesting the
result of a presidential election.

The opposition claims the election was rigged to ensure victory for
Serzh Sarkisian, Kocharian's hand-picked successor.

A mediator from the Western-led Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Tuesday that talks to resolve the
crisis would be impossible until the end of emergency rule, which
bans protests and censors the media.