Turkish President Congratulates Sarkisian on Victory

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Turkish President Abdullah Gul congratulated Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian on his victory in the presidential elections in Armenia, Reuters reports.
"On behalf of Turkish people and myself, I wish to congratulate you on being elected President of the Republic of Armenia," Gul’s statement read. "I hope your new position will permit the creation of the necessary environment for normalizing relations between the Turkish and Armenian peoples, who have proven over centuries they can live together in peace and concord."
"I sincerely wish that an atmosphere based on reciprocal trust and cooperation can be established that will contribute to regional peace and prosperity." It continued. "I want to take the opportunity to convey my sincere wishes of health and happiness, as well as peace and prosperity to the Armenian people."
EU Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner stated that she commen’s the people of Armenia and its leaders on the fact that these elections were conducted mostly in line with the country’s international commitmen’s.
"As the OSCE Election Observation Mission stated in its preliminary statement further improvemen’s will be necessary to address remaining challenges, in particular strengthening of public confidence in the electoral process," Ferrero-Waldner statement of read.
"At the same time it is important to note that considerable progress has been achieved with regard to the preparation and conduct of the electoral process since the last Presidential elections in 2003," European Commissioner stated. According to Ferrero-Waldner, these improvemen’s are in large part due to recent government reforms in Armenia.
"Support for these reforms is a key priority of the EU/Armenia Action Plan under the European Neighborhood Policy," she added. "The European Commission will continue to assist Armenia on its path to political and economic reforms. The recent strengthening of the Commission presence in Yerevan through the opening of an EC Delegation is a clear sign of our ongoing commitment," Benita Ferrero-Waldner stated.
Ferrero-Waldner also expressed confidence that the new president of Armenia will continue the path of reform, which is vital for the people of Armenia and the ongoing relationship between Armenia and the EU.
In other news, a leading international human rights organization urged the authorities in Yerevan on Friday to investigate beatings of opposition activists and journalists reported during Armenia’s presidential election.
"These election-day attacks targeted the very people trying to ensure the integrity of Armenia’s vote," said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW). "The Armenian government should carry out independent and speedy investigations to ensure justice is served and to send the message that intimidation won’t be tolerated."
"Most victims had been attempting to expose what they believed to be violations of electoral rules, such as incorrect voters’ lists, intimidation of voters, violations of the right to a secret ballot, and ballot-box stuffing," said HRW. "None of the victims was able or willing to return to the polling station to continue observing the voting.
"In several incidents, the assaults took place in the presence of police and polling station officials who did not intervene, and in one case a police officer appeared to assist the assailants."
Law-enforcement authorities opened criminal cases but fell short of charging anybody in connection with some of those incidents, including the reported kidnapping of a Ter-Petrosian proxy from a polling station in Abovian, a town 15 kilometers north of Yerevan.
HRW also urged the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to "look into election-related violence and ensure that its final report on the vote records these incidents." The preliminary election report by some 400 representatives of the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament who monitored the February 19 election made only a brief reference to "a few isolated violent incidents."
The observers concluded that the Armenian authorities held the vote "mostly in line" with democratic standards.

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