By Emil Danielyan
The United States has said Armenia’s parliamentary elections were a “step in the right direction,” but unlike Western election observers, stopped short of describing them as largely democratic.
“All and all, I think this is an improvement over past elections; though certainly if you look at what the observers said, it did not fully meet international standards,” Tome Casey, a spokesman for the State Department told a news briefing in Washington on Monday.
In a preliminary report released on Sunday, the 400-strong monitoring mission led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the vote was conducted “largely in accordance with international standards for democratic elections.” It was the most positive assessment of Armenian elections ever made by the OSCE.
The European Union rushed to praise the Armenian authorities’ conduct of the polls. The German government, the current holder the EU’s rotating presidency, said they were “on the whole” free and fair. In a separate statement, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said Armenians “demonstrated greater political maturity trough these elections” and sent a “positive signal to other countries in the region.”
The U.S. took a more cautious position, with Casey urging the authorities in Yerevan to “aggressively investigate allegations that are there of electoral wrongdoing and prosecute people in accordance with Armenian law.” In a separate statement posted on its website on Tuesday, the U.S. embassy in Armenia said the alleged fraud may have influenced the official vote results that gave a landslide victory to the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
“Part of the election process is a careful consideration of all issues raised in connection with the election, including several serious allegations of fraud or intimidation which may have affected the outcome of some of the races,” the statement said. It also noted that long-term OSCE observers are currently verifying figures reported by the Central Election Commission.
Tone Tingsgaard, a top member of the observer mission representing the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly, insisted on Sunday that irregularities reported by the Western monitors were not serious enough to affect the election outcome.
(Photolur photo: The U.S. embassy in Yerevan.)