The European Union hopes that upcoming general elections in Armenia will be democratic and plans to allocate over $3 million for that purpose, senior EU diplomats said on Thursday.
Piotr Switalski, the head of the EU Delegation in Yerevan, stressed that the EU will be the only source of foreign funding for the proper conduct of the elections expected in December.
“Our statement is that we offer financial support. That’s a very strong statement,” Switalski told a joint news conference with Thomas Mayr-Harting, a senior official from the European External Action Service visiting Yerevan.
The 28-nation bloc already provided $7 million in the run-up to Armenia’s last parliamentary elections held in April 2017. The money was mainly spent on the purchase of electronic voter authentication devices and web cameras that were installed in all polling stations of the country.
The equipment was specifically meant to prevent multiple voting, one of the most serious forms of fraud that had marred previous Armenian elections. Western observers did not report significant instances of multiple voting in the 2017 polls. They cited instead “credible information about vote-buying, and pressure on civil servants and employees of private companies.”
In Switalski’s words, the fresh EU aid will also be used for voter identification and web cameras. The sum will be provided by the European Commission and three EU member states: Germany, Britain and Sweden, added the envoy.
Mayr-Hartling said, for his part, that the EU expects the upcoming elections to be free and fair. He praised the new Armenian government’s stated efforts to establish the rule of law by combatting corruption and boosting judicial independence.
Mayr-Hartling and Switalski met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Wednesday.
“They highlighted the importance of building on progress, particularly in the area of combatting corruption and strengthening the rule of law,” the EU Delegation said in a statement. “Mayr-Harting reconfirmed the EU's readiness to accompany Armenia in its reform endeavors, offering assistance across a wide spectrum of issues.”