By Emil Danielyan
Armenia on Monday hit back at international criticism of last week’s presidential election in Nagorno-Karabakh and hailed the vote as proof of the Karabakh Armenians’ “commitment to democracy and rule of law.”
“Various OSCE and other international documents clearly indicate that not only should Nagorno-Karabakh be a party to settlement negotiations, but that their elected authorities should represent them,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“To dismiss these or any elections is disingenuous and simply contrary to modern political values,” the statement said. “Further, rejection cannot be understood given the fact that in other areas of the world, in places where final political status and settlement are also absent, such elections are indeed supported, promoted, observed and encouraged.”
Various international organizations and leading Western governments joined Azerbaijan in rejecting the legitimacy of the July 19 that formalized the handover of power from the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s President Arkady Ghukasian to his preferred successor backed by the disputed region’s main political groups. They said these and other Karabakh elections will not be deemed legitimate until a resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and return of Karabakh’s former Azerbaijani minority.
The United States and the European Union made it clear at the same time that they believe the latest vote will not have an adverse impact on the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group. The group’s American, French and Russian co-chairs routinely travel to Stepanakert and meet the NKR leadership during their visits to the conflict zone.
“This is just one expression of the commitment the people of Nagorno-Karabakh have made to democracy and rule of law,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said of the election.