YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — According to U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Richard Mills, the U.S. expects the Armenian government to honor its public statements and obligations to conduct free and fair elections. Ambassador Mills discussed a various range of topics via Facebook and responded to several questions that the citizens of Armenia had.
Responding to the question on how the reaction of Armenian authorities over the statements on election fraud impact the Armenian-American relations, the diplomat said: “As we’ve said, the U.S. Embassy was deeply concerned with the credible allegations of fraud that have come both from the media and civil society. We have called on the government as you point out to fully investigate and prosecute credible evidence of crimes.”
Mills also noted that shortly after the December 6 referendum, the Embassy also began gathering credible information from civil society, media, and the government.
“That information will be used to make decisions about individuals’ participation in U.S. government-sponsored programs and activities. Our strong relationship is based on our shared values—a commitment to due process, rule of law, and democracy—actions that cast doubt on the commitment of the Armenian government to those values are a source of concern. This is why we welcomed the government’s pledge to respond to all serious, credible allegations.” the Ambassador said.
While speaking about Armenia’s economy, he stated that the economy has reached a stage of stabilization and reforms which makes it attractive to US investors, Mills said online in response to citizens’ questions about his comments on US President Barack Obama’s statement that the historic level of US investment in Armenia in 2015 is just the beginning of expanded trade and investment ties and about practical steps and US companies interested in investments in Armenia.
The US president’s comments reflect the priorities of the US administration and embassy in Armenia – promoting US investments and trade. Last year saw important developments, including the Vorotan hydroelectric system deal, the largest one-time US investment in Armenia. Armenia and the US signed a framework trade and investment agreement, which is supposed to help the two governments to remove obstacles to bilateral trade, Mills added.
Ambassador Mills said he believes that the lifting of international sanctions against Iran could be a good opportunity for the US to expand its business relations with the Islamic Republic.
He added that the Embassy’s objective to attract more investment runs parallel with their partners’ efforts towards reducing corruption in Armenia. The diplomat further highlighted the importance of ensuring equal conditions for all businesses (whether Armenian, Russian or other), adding that they can attract investments to help cut corruption risk in support to the domestic entrepreneurs.
In addition, Mills also touched about the Karabakh conflict and elaborated. “There can be no lasting military solution of Nagorno Karabakh,” Mills said in a Facebook chat with reporters on the first anniversary of his mission in Armenia.
“The escalation of tragic violence and rhetoric along the line of contact is a source of deep concern to the U.S. government. The possibility of that escalation triggering even through misjudgment or error along the line of conflict is real in my view. That is why the Minsk Group Co-Chairs have urged both sides to take steps to reduce the level of violence along the line of contact, and to implement mechanisms for monitoring the situation,” Mills said.
“This was a topic of discussion when the two Presidents met in Bern, Switzerland, in December. The U.S. Co-Chair, Ambassador Warlick, is engaged with the other Co-Chairs in continuing to move the dialogue forward,” he added.
“The Minsk Group co-chairs have raised with both sides the importance of investigative mechanisms along the line of contact and other steps to reduce the level of violence. It is up to the two leaders to reach agreement on such steps. The Minsk Co-Chairs are facilitating discussions that I hope will lead to agreement,” Mills said.
“Although there are some stark policy differences between the U.S. and Russia, we are still able to find common ground and cooperate on other issues of importance to the international community – most notably on the Iran nuclear issue and within the Minsk Group, where I have seen first-hand the Russian, French, and U.S. co-chairs engage effectively,” the Ambassador concluded.