State Department Congratulates Kocharian

WASHINGTON–In a statement released on Wednesday–April 1–by the Office of the Spokesman James P. Rubin–the United States Department of State officially congratulated newly elected President of the Republic of Armenia Robert Kocharian. The State Department expressed a commitment to further cooperation with Armenia–and hoped the new administration would advocate a political resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The following is the text of the State Department statement:

On March 30–the people of Armenia went to the polls to elect a new president in a runoff election. According to the Armenian Central Elections Commission–returns from over 99 percent of votes cast indicate that Robert Kocharian has been elected president with 59.33 percent of the vote to 40.67 percent for Karen Demirchian. Over 68 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the second round–demonstrating the Armenian people’s commitment to democracy.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Election Observer Mission deployed almost 140 international observers for the runoff–including 65 Americans. On election day they visited over 40 percent of all polling stations in Armenia. The Mission determined that these elections are a step forward from the troubled 1996 elections toward a functioning democracy. While in some areas the elections fell short of the commitmen’s Armenia has made to OSCE standards–these shortcomings did not cause the OSCE to question the outcome. We endorse the conclusions of the OSCE preliminary report issued by Ambassador Sam Brown on April 1.

We agree with the OSCE that the new government should take steps to eliminate those electoral violations and irregularities which did occur. We hope there will be immediate and decisive steps taken along the lines laid out in the OSCE statement. We call on the Armenian authorities to investigate thoroughly these reported abuses–and take appropriate legal action against those responsible.

We congratulate President-elect Kocharian on his election and wish him success in forming a new government.

We particularly wish him well in further implementing economic and democratic reforms and a political resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We look forward to continuing our close cooperation with the government and people of Armenia as they work to bring about a stable–democratic and prosperous Armenia at peace with its neighbors.

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