–Delegation Head Praises Karabagh’s Elections–Calls for Baku to Restore Direct Ties to Karabagh’s Government–and Notes Armenia’s Progress on Constitutional and Electoral Reforms
WASHINGTON–DC–Speaking in Washington–DC at the July 4th plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA)–the head of the Armenian delegation–Deputy Speaker of the Armenian Parliament Vahan Hovhannisian briefed over 300 parliamentarians from 55 OSCE member states about recent developmen’s in Armenia and the South Caucasus region–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). Joining Vahan Hovhannisian as members of the OSCE PA delegation were Artashes Geghamyan–MP and Samvel Nikoyan–MP.
At the outset of his remarks–Hovhannisian noted to his colleagues that 2005 marked the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide–commenting that "it would not be an exaggeration to say that most of the current problems in our region stem from those tragic events." He went on to thank the OSCE member states that have recognized the Armenian Genocide–among them Cyprus–Canada–Russia–Greece–Belgium–Sweden–France–Italy–Switzerland–Slovakia–Netherlands–Poland–and Germany.
Hovhannisian praised the conduct of the recent Parliamentary elections in Mountainous Karabagh–the fourth held by the Republic since independence in 1991. Noting the positive findings of international election observers–hem pointed out that–"Some of Nagorno Karabagh’s neighbors can learn a great deal from its example of holding democratic elections."
In a related matter–the ANCA has supported the efforts of Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-CA)–the Chairman of the International Relations Subcommittee on Europe–to pass legislation–HRes 326–calling for free and fair parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan. This resolution outlines the expectations of the US regarding the upcoming November 2005 balloting–with a special focus on preventing problems–reported in past elections by international observers–regarding "inequality and irregularities in campaign and election conditions–including intimidation against opposition supporters–restrictions on political rallies by opposition candidates–and voting fraud."
Speaking directly to the Karabagh peace talks–which are mediated by the OSCE’s Minsk Group–Hovhannisian remarked that other regional conflicts being addressed by the OSCE–such as Abkhazia–South Ossetia and Moldova–are all characterized by direct talks between the conflicting parties. "As such," he commented–"we do not see a reason why the Azerbaijani authorities cannot do the same and try to restore their contacts with elected authorities of the Nagorno Karabakh."
In closing–Hovhannisian noted Armenia’s progress in revising its Electoral Code in accordance with European standards–a move that was welcomed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. He added that the political parties in Armenia have–after extensive deliberations–reached an agreement about constitutional changes and amendmen’s in accordance with the recommendations of the Council of Europe.