By Ruzanna Stepanian
The Russian head of the Yerevan office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe claimed on Friday that strong criticism of the OSCE made recently by Russia, Armenia and seven other ex-Soviet states did not apply to the office’s activities.
In statements issued earlier this month, the nine member governments of the Russian-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States accused the 55-nation organization of meddling in their internal affairs. They said the OSCE is often biased in its monitoring of troubled elections and human rights practices across the former Soviet Union.
“I think that the critical content of that statement is not addressed to our office,” Ambassador Vladimir Pryakhin told RFE/RL. “We do not interfere in Armenia’s internal affairs and do not engage in disproportionate actions mentioned in that statement.”
The CIS statements stated that the alleged interference has taken place both through election monitoring missions and the OSCE’s field offices mostly located in Eastern Europe and the CIS. Some Armenian officials had openly criticized the previous head of the OSCE’s Yerevan office, Ambassador Roy Reeve of Britain.
Pryakhin refused to speculate about motives for the Armenian government’s decision to sign the statements apparently initiated by Russia. “This issue relates to the sovereignty of the Republic of Armenia,” he said.
Armenia’s involvement in the verbal attack on the OSCE was denounced as “absolutely inappropriate” by several Armenian non-governmental organizations earlier this week. The groups making up an umbrella structure called the Partnership for Open Society said it “does not correspond to the country’s interests and damages its international reputation.”
However, official Yerevan defended its stance on Friday, with the Foreign Ministry citing the need for all OSCE member states to have “equal rights and full participation in decision-making.” “In this regard we have concerns which we present to the OSCE leadership and appropriate bodies,” the ministry spokesman, Hamlet Gasparian, said in a statement.