The United States hopes that next year’s parliamentary elections in Armenia will meet democratic standards, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday during a two-day visit to Yerevan.
Bridget Brink, the U.S. secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said the proper conduct of the April 2017 vote was on the agenda of her meetings with President Serzh Sarkisian and Armenian opposition politicians and civil-society representatives.
“In my meetings I also discussed the upcoming parliamentary elections and the OSCE-recommended reforms that are needed to ensure transparent, free and fair elections,” Brink told a news conference. “This is not only important for Armenians to see so that they know that their voices are heard.”
“I believe that a transparent, free and fair election would be a powerful, positive signal that Armenia is strongly committed to democracy just as America starts a new presidential administration,” she said.
The Armenian authorities say that they are committed to holding such polls. Last month, they enacted a set of opposition-backed amendments to the Electoral Code designed to minimize possible vote rigging. Opposition leaders say, however, that the authorities are still ready to resort to serious fraud to win the vote.
Brink met Sarkisian on Wednesday evening one week after the Republican candidate Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election. The Armenian presidential press service cited her as saying that the United States will remain “interested” in the South Caucasus during Trump’s tenure.
Brink commented cautiously on possible changes in U.S. foreign policy when she spoke to reporters the following day. “I can’t predict what the exact contours of the next administration’s policies will be, but I can tell that we will be informed and try to help to inform in a way that advances U.S. interests,” she said.
The U.S. official did make clear, though, that Washington will stay involved in international efforts to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.“On issues such as Nagorno-Karabakh, the United States, together with Russia and France, work closely to support a resolution of the conflict,” she said. “That has happened even as relations with Russia have become more difficult, and I hope and think that that will continue.”