By Emil Danielyan
U.S. President George W. Bush did not congratulate President Robert Kocharian on his reelection, and expressed instead his “disappointment” with the Armenian authorities' handling of the recent presidential election, it emerged on Monday.
Kocharian’s office claimed earlier that Bush sent the Armenian leader a letter of congratulation on April 9, the day when he was sworn in for a second term in office. However, the unpublicized message, revealed by the New York-based newspaper “Armenian Reporter” over the weekend, had a different content and contained no congratulatory words.
“In a spirit of friendship, I share the disappointment of the OSCE and others who have observed that Armenia missed an opportunity to make an example of a democratic election,” Bush wrote, alluding to a monitoring mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe which concluded that the vote “fell short of international standards.”
The OSCE observers’ findings were echoed by the U.S. State Department, which said it is “deeply disappointed” with reported widespread irregularities in a statement issued shortly after the May 5 second round of voting.
Bush at the same assured Kocharian that Washington will continue to “bolster our countries’ strong relations” despite the election criticism.
“As you begin your second term in office as President of Armenia, I reaffirm that the United States remains committed to the development of a democratic, market-oriented, and prosperous Armenia that is at peace with its neighbors,” he said. “I am confident that the ties between our countries and peoples will continue to strengthen.”
Bush further reaffirmed U.S. commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a key U.S. foreign policy objective in the region. “I also remain committed to working with all concerned parties in pursuit of a just and durable settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” he said. “Our shared goal is peace, reconciliation, and stability throughout the Caucasus region.”