Pallone to Observe Elections in Karabakh

Congressman to Spend Seven Days in NK and Armenia

Long Branch–NJ–US Rep. Frank Pallone–Jr. (D-NJ)–co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues will observe the democratic elections in Nagorno Karabakh on August 11 during a seven-day official visit to Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia.

The New Jersey congressman plans to observe the polling places–meet voters at the voting booths and meet with the four presidential candidates. US Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) will join Pallone for several days on the official visit.

Pallone believes the democratic elections constitute a significant step forward in the continuation of the existing democratic process in Nagorno Karabakh. Last month–Pallone and Caucus co-chairman US Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) sent letters to the National Democratic Institute–the Carter Institute and the International Republican Institute requesting these organizations monitor the presidential election.

"While the international community has not officially recognized the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh–the right of its people to elect their leaders cannot be disputed," Pallone and Knollenberg wrote in their letter. "The government of Nagorno Karabakh has repeatedly committed itself to free and fair elections."

During his visit to Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia–Pallone also plans to visit two organizations charged with clearing mines laid by both Azeri and pro-Karabakh forces in Nagorno Karabakh. Pallone will visit the HALO trust project in NK and the RONCO project in Armenia.

The New Jersey congressman will also hold several briefings with governmental officials in both countries–including Armenian President Robert Kocharian–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and Armenian Defense Minister Serge Sargsian.

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