Britain’s outgoing ambassador in Yerevan welcomed on Monday Armenian leaders’ pledges to ensure that next year’s parliamentary elections meet democratic standards.
“Certainly we can welcome repeated commitments from the prime minister recently and others that the coming elections will be the fairest, the most transparent held in Armenia,” Charles Lonsdale said.
“It’s a big opportunity here for Armenia to demonstrate a big step forward in its democratic development,” Lonsdale told a farewell news conference. “There will certainly be lots of support from outside to help that, not least from the European Union.”
“That puts a big burden of responsibility on the authorities to ensure that that happens,” he added.
Speaking in Brussels last Tuesday, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian said the Armenian authorities intend to hold next May “the most transparent and fair elections in the 20-year history of independent Armenia.” President Serzh Sarkisian’s most influential aide made a similar statement earlier this month.
Armenia’s leading opposition forces shrug off such pledges, saying that the authorities will in fact be seeking to retain control of the National Assembly at any cost. They also dismiss as insignificant recent amendments to the Armenian Electoral Code which were praised by Council of Europe officials.
Observers mostly deployed by the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe described as largely democratic Armenia’s last parliamentary and presidential elections held in 2007 and 2008 respectively. The United States considers the polls “significantly flawed,” however.