The official results of the recent parliamentary elections held in Armenia largely reflect the will of its people, a senior European Union diplomat insisted on Friday.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), Herbert Salber, the EU’s special representative for the South Caucasus, defended the EU’s largely positive assessment of the conduct of the April 2 elections. He suggested that irregularities reported by international observers were not serious enough to significantly affect their outcome.
“Nobody says that these elections were perfect,” Salber said during his latest visit to Armenia. “Not even the leadership of this country. They recognize that there are things which have to be improved in the future.”
“But if we put the elections into a comparison with what happened before and also with what happens in other countries in the region, then probably it is fair to say that these elections were reasonably well-organized, that the processes which took place on election day were OK, and that these elections more or less reflect the will of the people here,” he added.
On April 4, a spokesperson for Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, echoed European observers’ preliminary conclusion that the elections were marred by “credible information about vote-buying” and voter intimidation, even though “fundamental freedoms were generally respected.” “The election result nevertheless reflects the overall will of the Armenian people,” she said in a statement.
Salber likewise said it is clear from the observers’ findings that the irregularities “probably did not modify significantly the outcome.” “Nobody denies the shortcomings,” he said. “But in comparison with what we have seen before in Armenia, probably we can say that there was some progress.”
Most Armenian opposition groups say the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) won the elections primarily because of vote buying. Some of them have also alleged more serious irregularities.