By Hovannes Shoghikian
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian reiterated on Wednesday his warnings that Armenia will face “very bad consequences” in the international arena if it fails to ensure that its approaching parliamentary elections are democratic.
“We need fair elections like bread and water to be able to correctly and legally manage our next decade,” he said.
Oskanian warned throughout last year that fresh vote rigging would cause the country “not only moral but also material damage.” It was an apparent reference to hundreds of millions of dollars in additional aid promised to Yerevan by the United States and the European Union in return for a clean ballot.
Oskanian went further on Wednesday, warning of possible ramifications for Armenia’s international standing and its ability to secure a pro-Armenian solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “If we fail to hold normal elections, there may be cases where we will be stung in such a way that we won’t be able to offset the damage,” he told a new conference. The U.S. State Department’s recent reference to Karabakh as an Armenian-occupied territory was a clear indication of such danger, he said.
“Armenia continues to occupy the Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding Azerbaijani territories,” the State Department said in its latest human rights report. Armenian opposition leaders have blamed President Robert Kocharian and his government for the “anti-Armenian” statement.
According to Oskanian, State Department officials subsequently admitted “factual errors” in the statement. “During our discussions the State Department admitted that that was an obvious mistake on their part, and if they manage to overcome bureaucratic hurdles, they will try to make a correction in that document,” he said.