By Shakeh Avoyan and Hrant Alexanian in Stepanakert
Today, the people of the unrecognized republic of Nagorno-Karabakh elected their leader, despite the international community and several countries, including Armenia's main ally Russia, have condemned the planned elections.
Our correspondents reported from Stepanakert, the Capital of the disputed enclave, that more than 50 percent of some 90 thousand registered voters have cast their ballots by afternoon, which would effectively validate the vote. Most local analysts believe that incumbent president Arkadi Ghukasian would easily win the elections.
The main challengers of the incumbent president former parliament speaker Artur Tovmasian, the leader of the Christian Democratic party Albert Kazaryan and the chairman of the Freedom party Grigory Afanasyan described today's vote as fair.
Artur Tovmasian told our correspondent that he didn't receive any information from his supporters about violations during Sunday's vote. Another presidential hopeful Grigory Afanasian also agreed with the assessment of his rival, saying that he was hundred percent sure that there were no violations during elections.
Casting his ballot in Stepanakert incumbent president Arkadi Ghukasian said he was voting for peace in Nagorno-Karabakh. The leader of Nagorno-Karabkah was confident that Sunday's elections would boost democratic processes in the disputed enclave, bringing closer his unrecognized republic to international recognition.
In a response to the international criticism Ghukasian said, "Those who were against the elections were against the democracy in Nagorno-Karabakh". On Tuesday, the government of Nagorno-Karabakh joined Armenia in dismissing the latest international criticism of its plans to hold presidential elections.
Commenting on the upcoming talks between Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents Heidar Aliyev and Robert Kocharian, Ghukasian said he doesn't believe that the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit will produce any result. "I think Aliyev has exhausted his constructive resources and we don't expect any constructive step from him", Arkadi Ghukasian said.
Meanwhile, according to Russian news agency ITAR-TASS, the preisident of Azerbaijan Heidar Aliyev stated on Sunday that he wants to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by peaceful means, trough negotiations. The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to meet at the border between their countries on August 14 for more discussions on the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijani leader Heidar Aliyev, who is already in the region where the meeting should take place next Tuesday, said, " I don't want war, and I seek a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict".