EU Statement on Constitutional Referendum in Armenia

(RFE/RL/PanARMENIAN.Net)–The European Union (EU) welcomed the Armenian government’s positive role in backing and promoting constitutional reforms–but questioned the government’s commitment to holding transparent elections–after the November 27 referendum to approve the proposed changes to Armenia’s constitution.

Both the EU and the Council of Europe have endorsed the constitutional changes that would curtail the broad powers of the Armenian presidency.

A statement issued Monday by the British Embassy on behalf of EU member states–said the package of amendmen’s to the Constitution proposed by the Government of Armenia will pave the way for strengthening democracy in Armenia. It stressed the EU’s concern about reports of ballot stuffing and manipulation of voter turnout figures at the November 27 polls.

"A failure to prevent activities such as this call into question Armenia’s commitment to transparency and democracy," reads the statement–which urges the Government of Armenia–and specifically the Central Election Commission–to take "seriously the Council of Europe observers’ recommendation of a thorough investigation into the allegations of fraud–and calls on the Government of Armenia to ensure that those responsible are brought to account."

Addressing parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in 2007 and 2008 respectively–it calls for appropriate actions in conducting elections–saying it is "crucial for the democratic credentials of Armenia."

"Against this background–the EU would have welcomed a decision by the Government of Armenia to invite the OSCE/ODIHR to observe the referendum."

The EU also regrets the Armenian opposition’s decision to call for a popular boycott of the vote and withdraw from the commissions that handled it. "The EU calls on all parties to ensure that any demonstrations continue to be peaceful in nature," concludes the statement.

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