A day after being elected as the new Artsakh president, Arayik Harutyunyan called for civic and political unity and pledged to work with all factions to ensure that challenges facing Artsakh will be confronted through a unified front.
Artsakh’s Central Election Commission on Wednesday released the official preliminary results of Tuesday’s runoff elections. The body’s chairwoman Srbuhi Arzumanyan said at press briefing that Harutyunyan had received 84.5 percent of the votes (39,860), while his opponent, Artsakh’s current foreign minister Masis Mayilian received 12.1 percent of the votes (5,728). Soon after the March 31 elections, Mayilyan had called for the April 14 runoff to be postponed, citing the citizen’s health concern amid the coronavirus pandemic. He effectively stopped campaigning.
However, turnout in Tuesday’s elections was at an all-time low, with Arzumanyan, the CEC chairwoman, reporting a 45 percent turnout (47,185 votes), an almost 30 percent drop from the March 31 elections.
“I am ready to cooperate with everyone,” said Harutyunyan at a press briefing in Stepanakert on Wednesday. “I have mentioned the agenda – a general social-economic program, the Karabakh issue, security, and cooperation with the government of Armenia. I am ready to cooperate with everyone around this agenda.”
“Soon I will begin meetings with parliamentary political parties, and I am open for cooperation with non-parliamentary political parties as well,” Harutyunyan said.
“I am going to run a policy in Artsakh so that we can unite our society and jointly tackle the challenges. We do not have any problems with any politician. There will not be political persecution against anyone,” added Harutyunyan who, during the campaign, had threatened to sue his critics.
Harutyunyan also said that he would discuss with authorities in Armenia for additional funding to combat the coronavirus epidemic. Artsakh declared a state of emergency on Sunday, but did not postpone Tuesday’s election. As of Wednesdays, there were six reported cases of the virus, with officials announcing that two were cured.
On Tuesday evening, Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian congratulated Harutyunyan soon after the president-elect’s spokesperson effectively declared him the winner. Artsakh President Bako Sahakian, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia were among leaders who congratulated Harutyunyan.
Sahakian met with Harutyunyan on Wednesday and offered congratulations, expressing confidence that “Haroutyunyan’s experience, knowledge and human qualities would by all means serve the development and strengthening of our country, ensuring its security, raising the level of welfare of the people on a constituent basis.”
In a message posted on Twitter, Pashinyan congratulated the people of Artsakh on completing the election process, stating that Armenia continues close cooperation with Artsakh for reaching common goals.
“I congratulate the people of independent and democratic Artsakh on completing the election process. They mandated authorities to further strengthen the security of Artsakh and represent it in the peace process. We continue our close cooperation with Artsakh to reach our common goals,” Pashinyan wrote on Twitter.
In a separate statement addressed to Harutyunyan, Pashinyan congratulated the president elect and wished him and his government success in accomplishing his goals.
“The people of Artsakh expressed their political will in the presidential and parliamentary elections of Artsakh, realizing their inalienable right to form their state bodies through competitive elections,” said Pashinyan. “The people of Artsakh once again reaffirmed their unwavering will and right to live, work and create in their motherland. This once again comes to prove that Artsakh is an independent and democratic country with its accomplished institutions and mature civil society.”
“The people of Artsakh granted you with the mandate to reinforce Artsakh’s security, develop the economy and establish democratic values, a society based on human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Pashinyan said. “For achieving this goal, you have adopted a comprehensive reform agenda in the spheres of state administration, economy, politics, judiciary and other spheres of social life and you can rely on the support of the Government of the Republic of Armenia and personally me in this process.”
“I wish you and the heroic people of Artsakh success, countless achievements which I believe will be possible to realize by joining our collective efforts,” concluded Pashinyan.