Britain on Friday hailed this week’s presidential election as “another step forward in Armenia’s democratic development.”
“The campaign was free and open and voter turn-out on polling day was good. I expect that the final result, when confirmed, will reflect the choice of the Armenian voters,” David Lidington, the British Foreign Office minister for Europe, said in a statement.
Lidington pointed to the mostly positive findings of the largest international mission to monitor Monday’s vote. But he noted that Western observers also reported “deficiencies in election administration and instances of political interference.” “I look forward to seeing the Mission’s final report and encourage the Armenian Government to respond constructively to any recommendations it might make,” he said.
“The British Government looks forward to working with the Armenian Government to promote the economic reforms which will underpin Armenia’s efforts to forge a stronger relationship with the European Union,” added the official.
The British government’s stance is broadly line with the official EU reaction to the election that was voiced by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and enlargement commissioner, Stefan Fuele, earlier this week. They spoke of “further progress” in the Armenian authorities’ declared efforts to hold democratic polls.
A positive European assessment of the election conduct is critical for further progress in Armenia’s ongoing negotiations with the EU on a comprehensive Association Agreement.
Lidington said Britain welcomes those talks “wholeheartedly” when he visited Yerevan in September. “We are impressed by the progress Armenia has been making in developing closer ties with both the European Union and NATO,” he said after talks with Armenian leaders.