Karine Kalantarian, Harry Tamrazian
Speaking to RFE/RL at the US funded demining Center on Friday, US Ambassador to Armenia John Ordway indicated that US will watch parliamentary elections as closely as the last presidential elections. John Ordway told our correspondent he will monitor also May 25 vote.
Ordway, who personally monitored the two rounds of presidential elections held last February and March, said the observers themselves couldn’t create good elections.
“Clearly the experience of presidential elections has sharpened the focus on observers and their role. But observers are really only one tool that is useful in measuring whether on not the elections meet international standards,” the US Ambassador said.
The OSCE will send a strong multi-national team to monitor May 25 polls. The observation mission has already started its work in Armenia with 28 election experts from 17 OSCE member states. Another 250 short-term observers will reinforce it shortly before the voting. There were about 200 of them during both rounds of the presidential balloting.
John Ordway urged the Armenian government to prevent the mistakes of the past, saying that Armenia can have good elections only if politicians, the election officials and the government work together. The top US diplomat dismissed the complaints of some Armenian leaders that the western observers should have applied softer standards in evaluating the Armenian elections.
“There are no multiple standards of democracy. Armenia has voluntarily and in its own interest taken commitments to European standards, OSCE standards for conducting elections”. John Ordway said that there are other countries of the former Soviet Union, that have managed to meet or even exceed international standards, including Russia.
Ordway also dismissed the suggestions of some Kocharian’s closest allies that the western world couldn’t understand the mentality of Armenians because the Armenian mentality is unique.
“I do not really believe if there is anything in the mentality of Armenians that suggested they are incapable of meeting democratic norms,” Ordway said. There are particular problems, particular issues in Armenia that the people and the authorities need to analyze and take measures. “But I don’t think that it is a measure of mentality,” US Ambassador to Armenia John Ordway said.