Armenia’s government is committed to holding a free and fair presidential election early next year, President Serzh Sarkisian said on Wednesday, addressing a coalition of Europe’s leading conservative parties.
“The parliamentary elections that took place in Armenia last spring were assessed by international observers as the best since independence. The authorities of the Republic of Armenia are determined to transform the registered progress into a firm trend and to hold free, fair, transparent and democratic presidential elections,” Sarkisian said in a speech at a European People’s Party (EPP) congress held in Romania’s capital Bucharest.
For that purpose, he said, the authorities are taking “preparatory measures” stemming from recommendations made by an election observation mission mostly deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Citing the mission’s findings, the European Union has given a largely positive assessment of the May 6 parliamentary elections that were won by Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) amid opposition allegations of fraud and vote buying.
EU leaders have said at the same time the Armenian presidential ballot due in February should be even more democratic. They have indicated that this is essential for the holding of an international donor conference on Armenia planned by the EU. According to media reports, Yerevan is aiming for as much as $1 billion in donor funding.
Sarkisian mentioned the planned conference in his speech, saying that his government needs “considerable” financial assistance from the EU to carry out “comprehensive reforms that will result in a much more efficient system of governance.”
The Armenian leader also referred to his nation as “an indivisible part of the European civilization.” In that context, he again stressed the importance of Armenia’s involvement in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program that makes it eligible for an “association agreement” with the 27-nation bloc.
The EPP, which boasts Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats and France’s main opposition UMP party among its members, granted an observer status to Sarkisian’s HHK and two other Armenian parties earlier this year.