OSCE Envoy Discusses Upcoming Elections With Parliament Leaders

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Deputy parliament chairman Vahan Hovanessian, who is also head of Armenian Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and Samvel Nikoyan, a delegation member, met Thursday with the visiting US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Julie Finley. Armenian parliament’s press service said Finley stressed that the next national elections in Armenia must conform with international standards saying the OSCE would like to extend its mission’s presence in Armenia to monitor preparations for the next parliamentary elections to 90 days. She said the presence of observers during pre-election campaign as important as on the voting day. The Armenian officials were said to emphasize the importance of fair and transparent polls saying the parliament is set to pass a set of changes to election code which were approved by the OSCE and the Council of Europe. The West appears concerned about Armenia’s failure so far to formally ask the OSCE to monitor the vote. Finley, on Thursday continued to press Armenian leaders to extend such an invitation , stressing the need for the deployment of a "long-term" OSCE monitoring mission on the second day of her visit to Yerevan. "None of the officials has said that they don’t want observers," Finley told reporters. "What they have said is that the government is awaiting the announcement of the date of the elections before they can do anything."We would encourage the government to invite the OSCE to conduct a long-term observation as well as a short-term observation because we all know that the lead-up to the election is as critical as election day itself," she said. Parliament speaker Tigran Torosian appeared to agree with her. "In my view, all influential international organizations that have traditionally monitored elections, should be invited," he told RFE/RL. Torosian also discussed the issue on Thursday at a separate meeting with Vladimir Pryakhin, the Russian head of the OSCE office in Yerevan. "Ambassador Pryakhin said the OSCE was ready to assist Armenia in conducting elections according to international standards, and to send an observation mission provided an invitation was issued by the Armenian authorities in a timely manner," the office said in a written statement. "The Chairman of the National Assembly agreed that the invitation should be issued as soon as possible."

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