STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources)–Reacting to recent remarks by the outgoing secretary general of the Council of Europe Walter Schwimmer–who criticized Sunday’s local elections in the Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR) saying they cannot be deemed legitimate before an international agreement on the disputed territory’s status–MKR’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement expressing concern and confusion. "The MKR leadership thinks that the election of government bodies on all levels based on the principles of democracy is an important step to the construction of the free democratic society," the statement read.
"One-sided actions are counter-productive. The future of Karabagh must be decided through negotiations," Schwimmer had said in a statement from Strasbourg. He pointed to his criticism of elections held in Karabagh in the past.
The foreign ministry statement made it apparent that it was perplexed by Schwimmer’s remarks–as it was not clear on how the elections may negatively influence the process of settling the Karabagh conflict. "Only the legitimate power may bear the responsibility for the entrusted territories and has necessary authorities for carrying on peaceful negotiations on the settlement of the conflict," it read.
Karabagh’s ethnic Armenian leadership has hels several presidential–parliamentary–and local elections over the past decade. Official Stepanakert backed by Armenia proper has argued that only elected officials can represent the people of Karabagh in the peace talks sponsored by France–Russia–and the United States."
"MKR for over 10 years has lived as a sovereign state–which bears no relation to Azerbaijan and independently organizes its life in the territory that historically belongs to the Armenia’s of Karabakh. All international structures that come up with such statemen’s render political support to the regime which unleashed the large-scale war against Karabakh and does not refuse from attempts to apply force against the MKR," concludes the statement.
MKR President Arkady Ghukasian said on Sunday that the local government elections are an expression of democracy and that the people had an opportunity to elect their leaders–Armenpress reported.
"By holding such civil actions–we create more possibilities to be recognized by the international community," Ghukasian said.
"We are just electing heads of towns and villages," Ghukasian said. "The alternative to the elections is dictatorship. It is strange that European politicians make such statemen’s that undermine democratic values."