By Hrant Alexanian in Stepanakert
Political and civic leaders in Nagorno-Karabakh strongly rejected the European Union declaration issued on Friday, which branded the upcoming presidential elections in the self-proclaimed republic as illegitimate. Not trying to hide their dismay, they ask if in the absence of elections, anarchy or dictatorship is a better alternative. How could the EU deny a community the right to elect and get elected, say observers in the small enclave, populated by Armenians, but situated within the borders of Azerbaijan.
Mushegh Ohanjanina, the deputy speaker of the enclave’s parliament told RFE/RL that if the people cannot elect their leaders, then who can represent them during the peace process aimed at resolving the 14 year conflict with Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh has gained de-facto independence form Azerbaijan after a six-year war that ended with the enclave’s military victory and an armed truce in 1994.
Georgi Safarian, chairman of the Human Rights Association in Karabakh says that by condemning the elections, the EU has violated parts of the Universal Human Rights Declaration, which speaks of the right of every human being to enjoy open and free elections. Instead of dismissing these elections, Safarian believes that European structures should help ensure free and fair elections in Nagorno-Karabakh.
A former politician and civic leader, Shemavon Petrossian told RFE/RL that it is absurd for the EU to go against free and democratic elections anywhere in the world.
“ In this sense, the position of the United States is preferable on this issue. The U.S. has never criticized elections in Nagorno-Karabakh…meaning that it does not consider the election process as a hindrance to the establishment of peace in the region.”
It is expected that the foreign ministry of the self-proclaimed republic will issue a statement rejecting the EU position. The foreign ministry of Armenia already criticized the EU declaration on Saturday “as politically motivated” and complicating the peace efforts by the OSCE Minsk Group mediators.