Armenia’s EU Delegation Discusses Karabakh ‘Quiet Diplomacy,’ Country’s New Electoral Code

Ambassador Piotr Switalski, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia (Source: ArmRadio)
Ambassador Piotr Switalski, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia (Source: ArmRadio)

Ambassador Piotr Switalski, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia (Source: ArmRadio)

YEREVAN— “Recent months have brought a new dynamic into the process of settlement of the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh,” head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Switalski told a press conference in Yerevan on Tuesday, reported ArmRadio.com.

“The Vienna summit opened a new chapter in the efforts to find a fair and comprehensive solution to the problem. Quite recently we witnessed a new important summit in St. Petersburg and this process continues. The European Union fully supports the efforts undertaken within this framework. The leading role is played by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, and the EU is fully behind these efforts.

Switalski will have meetings with the President and Foreign Minister of Armenia and other officials during his visit. The delegation’s visit is another testimony that the European Union wants to be seen as a contributing factor, the European Union wants to be supportive of these peace efforts. “The negotiations are now in a very delicate stage. It’s not prudent to speak too much about them, because this period requires a lot of quiet diplomacy, requires very confidential approaches,” he added.

“It’s not time for strong public diplomacy. Nevertheless, as far as the European Union is concerned, we continue our support to the efforts aimed at bringing a solution to the process. I think that the agreements reached at the Vienna summit should be implemented, because now they constitute the way to bring a positive change into the conflict resolution dynamics,” Ambassador Switalski said.

The European Union said on Monday that it is prepared to finance the implementation of a compromise agreement on the proper conduct of next year’s parliamentary election reached by Armenia’s government and opposition, reported RFE/RL.

“The agreement reached between the government and the opposition has been widely regarded outside Armenia as a historic deal,” said Switalski.

Switalski referred to a set of significant amendments to Armenia’s new Electoral Code worked out by the two sides in an effort to prevent or minimize vote irregularities. He said they bode well for the freedom and fairness of the Armenian elections due in April 2017.

The most important of those amendments call for the introduction of a biometric registry of voters which is supposed to prevent multiple voting by government loyalists. This would be done through electronic machines that check voters’ identity through new, plastic ID cards containing their fingerprints.

The authorities also agreed to install video cameras in all of Armenia’s 2,000 or so polling stations and ensure live broadcasts of voting and ballot counting there through the Internet.

Armenian government officials have warned that the amendments will be annulled unless foreign donors allocate by September the bulk of an estimated $16 million needed for the purchase of the special anti-fraud equipment.

“I hope that the financial side of the issue will find a constructive solution,” Switalski said. “The European Union is ready to provide considerable funding for implementing the agreement.”

“Besides, I think that a number of individual states are also ready to financially support the agreement,” he added.

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