YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The following are excerpts from Catholicos Karekin I’s statement aired on Radio Liberty.
"I welcome the constitutional–civilized processes we’ve been witnessing for the last several weeks after the president stepped down and an early presidential election was scheduled.
"We acted properly–which is worthy of a civilized–democratic nation. Today–I see that preparations for a new election are held in conditions allowing our people to express their will.
"I praise this attitude–and my only aspirations are that our people will be able to listen to their consciences and fulfill their civic duties…I want our people to be their own masters and high judges; I want them to go to the polls following their conscience–logic and patriotism to prevent the entire Armenian nation from splitting apart.
"We have to be unprejudiced in treating our compatriots whether they are from Armenia–Karabakh or abroad. From now on we must be like one loaf of bread and never like its slices–separate communities. Our statehood is a belt holding together the whole nation. From this point of view I expect the March 16 election to ensure our nation’s prosperity–happiness–welfare–honor and victory–all of these resting upon the independence gained during the past seven years.
"You must be well aware that the Church–as a common spiritual home for Armenia’s–can’t meddle in politics. This is alien to its status. Yet–the Church can’t stand aloof when the issues of the nation’s health–security–identity and development are being decided. That is why this election has to become another step in expressing the will of all Armenia’s of the world. We can do it if we want; we can do it once we place ourselves above private or group interests. We expect a new president and his administration to consider and appreciate the role of the Armenian Church."