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Armenian Government, Opposition Praise Clinton Letter


Armenia -- Eduard Sharmazanov, the spokesman for the governing Republican Party, undated

Armenia -- Eduard Sharmazanov, the spokesman for the governing Republican Party, undated

Armenia’s main governing and opposition forces responded positively on Friday to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s pledge to promote democracy and human rights in the country.


In a letter to about a dozen Armenian civic organizations publicized on Thursday, Clinton said respect for democratic values is “critical to Armenia’s future.” “We stand by these values and will continue to voice our support for them in Armenia and around the world,” she wrote.

“The U.S. secretary of state once again made clear that the United States is committed to defending and spreading democratic values in Armenia and working with various sections of the society and the government in that endeavor,” said Eduard Sharmazanov, the spokesman for President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).

“I think there is nothing wrong with this and I find this statement by Mrs. Clinton very normal and constructive,” Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Vladimir Karapetian, a representative of the opposition Armenian National Congress.
A senior representative of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), Vladimir Karapetian, also welcomed Clinton’s letter to the civic groups, which came in response to their joint appeal made last month. They urged Washington to press the Armenian authorities to immediately free all “political prisoners,” end police torture and attacks on journalists, and properly investigate the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.

“It is important for that the United States is not deviating from its path and is continuing to insist that the highly contentious issues of human rights and freedom of speech in Armenia will be at the center of U.S. government attention,” Karapetian told RFE/RL.

The HAK’s top leader, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, has repeatedly accused the West of turning a blind eye to government “repression” in Armenia because of Sarkisian’s Western-backed foreign policy.

Sharmazanov insisted that the Sarkisian administration is committed to democratizing Armenia’s political system and tackling human rights abuses. “Of course, we know that there are numerous instances of human rights violations in Armenia,” he said. “But Armenia’s authorities acknowledge those problems and are working openly and publicly to boost human rights protection in Armenia and turn it into an established democracy.”

The ruling party spokesman went on to criticize the local rights groups for appealing to Clinton and “exposing Armenia’s internal problems abroad” in the first place. “I’m not a big fan of such behavior,” he said.

But Karapetian rejected the criticism. “We are grateful to them for publicizing these problems,” he said.
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