OSCE Head Discusses Post-Election Situation with Armenian Officials

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–The chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva met Armenia’s top government leaders on Tuesday to discuss mounting tensions in the country in the wake of last week’s presidential election.
During his meeting with government officials, Kanerva discussed with President Robert Kocharian the government’s assessment of post-election developmen’s in Armenia.
Kanerva appreciated the restraint and responsibility demonstrated by the authorities during ongoing protests. He expressed confidence that the Armenian authorities will show rationality and will act in line with methods accepted in civilized countries, reported the President’s press office.
"The Armenian authorities are making every effort to ensure the opportunity of political dialogue, and all the parties-the political majority and the opposition-must act in a constructive way using only legal means," Kanerva said during a press conference following his meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian. "This is the only way that will lead Armenia towards a stable and lasting success."
According to Kanerva, the situation in Armenia has become very complex. The opposition is protesting the election results but the OSCE’s message is that Armenia’should find a way out only via political dialogue and legal means, he said.
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights has issued two interim reports based on its observations. The final report will be publicized in late April. According to Kanerva’s assessment, the report, which is to be issued in a few months, will be more accurate.
"We are glad to support Armenia as it further improves election procedures and legislation. Concrete recommendations on how to do this will be included in the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights’ comprehensive, final report from the 19 February elections," he said. "I urge you to view the report as a roadmap to democratic progress."
The Minister noted the demonstrations held by the opposition for several days following the election. "I trust that the authorities will continue to respect the right of citizens to assemble freely and ensure that public gatherings can take place without hindrance," he said.
Though such demonstrations are part of any vibrant democracy, political progress can only come through negotiations that involve all sides, the Chairman’said.
"Dialogue and co-operation are the hallmarks of the OSCE, and I call on you to use these effective tools to resolve the challenges facing Armenia," he said.
He also called on Armenian leaders to show courage and statesmanship in the political negotiations that aim to create progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement, noting that the OSCE would support the results of the negotiations reached between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
"A peace agreement would be a milestone, but in addition, the populations on both sides must be prepared for peace through promotion of friendly and normal contacts across community lines," he said. "The OSCE is ready to assist both sides in these efforts."

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