By Emil Danielyan
The outgoing secretary general of the Council of Europe, Walter Schwimmer, on Wednesday criticized the upcoming local elections in Nagorno-Karabakh, saying that they can not be deemed legitimate before an international agreement on the disputed territory’s status.
“One-sided actions are counter-productive. The future status of Nagorno-Karabakh must be decided through negotiations,” Schwimmer said in a statement from Strasbourg. He pointed to his criticism of elections held in Karabakh in the past.
The statement is certain to please Azerbaijan which wants to restore its control over Karabakh and regards the Karabakh Armenian leadership as an “occupation regime” installed by Armenia. Azerbaijan’s ally Turkey has also denounced the local polls slated for Sunday.
Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership has held several presidential, parliamentary and local elections over the past decade, ignoring similar condemnations made by the Azerbaijani side as well as international mediators. Official Stepanakert backed by Armenia proper has argued that only elected officials can represent the Karabakh people in the peace talks sponsored by France, Russia and the United States.
Schwimmer, who will be replaced by Terry Davis of Britain as secretary general on September 1, also welcomed the recent series of meetings between Armenian and Azerbaijani officials.