Archive for the ‘NKR’ Category

The big picture of NKR elections

July 24, 2007

In his daily column Aram Abrahamyan, editor of the Aravot Newspaper, expressed opinion, that the elections in Nagorno Karabakh were important not only for the NKR but could also serve an example for the political field in Armenia. Mr. Abrahamyan finds it noteworthy, that after the vote, Masis Mayilyan congratulated Bako Sahakyan with victory, something that has apparently never happened in the history of Armenian elections.

Similar opinions were expressed by Sergey Markedonov, a member of the election monitoring team. Mr. Markedonov stressed that the elections were neither a succession of power from father to son, nor a “color” revolution.

In an interview Arkadi Ghukasyan, the NKR’s outgoing president commented on the fact, that well before the elections the majority of  political forces in the country had declared support for Bako Sahakyan.  Mr. Ghukasyan expressed opinion that this was probably an endemic phenomenon for the NKR and had come about mostly from the pressure of the unresolved conflict. In fact, the consolidation of political forces behind Mr. Sahakyan, apparently after his victory became more or less apparent, is probably the single most important factor, questioning the pluralism and free spirit of the elections.

Following NKR Elections

July 23, 2007

Reactions are coming in on the presidential vote conducted in Nagorno Karabakh last week. Obvious positive responses coming from Armenia, with the president, prime minister and parliament speaker congratulating Bako Sahakyan with victory.

Also in a predictable move international organizations and western states, particularly NATO, the EU and the US were quick to criticize the elections. Rudolf Perina, United States charge d’affairs in Armenia stated that the US, as any other country, does not recognize the NKR and subsequently the elections held there.

A Russian newspaper “Vremya Novostey” (News Time) expressed an opinion, that Mr. Sahakyan will be a good partner for Serge Sargsyan, apparently accentuating widely held expectations that Mr. Sargsyan will succeed Robert Kocharyan in 2008.

With regard to reactions coming from Nagorno Karabakh, Masis Mayilyan, Mr. Sahakyan’s main contender in the vote, congratulated the president elect and said, that Mr. Sahakyan has been rightfully elected, despite some falsifications in the voting process. It is highly unlikely that the results of the vote will be in any serious way challenged from inside the NKR. With official monitoring missions limited mostly to former CIS countries it is yet unclear if a more independent assessment of the elections will become available in the future.

Presidential Vote in NKR conducted

July 20, 2007

Presidential elections in Nagorno Karabakh were held yesterday. The NKR Central Electoral Commission reports that 76.25% of eligible voters took part in the elections. Of the five candidates running for presidency, two – former NSS minister Bako Sahakyan, and deputy minister of foreign affairs, Masis Mayilyan, were considered front runners. Preliminary results show, that as was predicted, Mr. Sahakyan took a comfortable majority, with 87.14% of the vote.

Media reports state of a 93 person international monitoring mission, which has so far reported favorably of the voting process. It is important to remember, however, that since the NKR is not internationally recognized, major international institutions such as the OSCE or the EU did not, in any major extent participate in monitoring the elections. It appears that mostly representatives of several CIS and former socialist countries as well as breakaway republics such as Northern Osetia and Transdniestria constituted to this mission.

So far there are no reports of the four other candidates’ responses to Bako Sahakyan’s apparent landslide victory. It is most likely that criticism of the vote from inside the NKR will be limited, with many parties and structures in the country having declared support for Mr. Sahakyan well before the polls.

NKR to hold elections

June 25, 2007

Presidential elections in Nagorno Karabakh are to be held on July 19th. The current president, Arkadi Ghukasyan, is in his second term and cannot run for president for a third time. Bako Sahakyan, currently head of the National Security Service, is seen as a likely winner. He has the support of Mr. Ghukasyan, as well as several political forces both in Armenia and the NKR. Recently, the “Erkrapah” Karabakh war veterans’ union declared support for Mr. Sahakyan.

Other notable candidates are Masis Mayilyan, currently deputy foreign minister, and Vanya Ovannisyan, a professor at the Artsakh State University.

Karabakh agreement not reached in St. Petersburg

June 12, 2007

The long anticipated meeting between Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s presidents took place on June 9th in St. Petersburg. Contrary to speculation circulating in Armenia and the OSCE Co-Chairs’ apparent optimism preceding this meeting, the two leaders failed to reach an agreement.

With upcoming presidential elections both in Armenia and Azerbaijan, the negotiation process is now expected to slow down till 2009. After that there will be at least one new leader (Robert Kocharia is bound to leave office in 2008) and many believe that will mean another setback for the negotiations.

Possible agreement on NKR issue sparks debate

June 1, 2007

Politically active circles in Yerevan are full of speculation concerning the upcoming meeting between Armenian and Azeri presidents in St. Petersburg on June 10th. It is widely believed that an agreement will be signed handing over control of five or seven Armenian-controlled regions adjacent to Nagorno Karabakh (the so called buffer zone) either to Azerbaijan or to a peacekeeping force. The speculation apparently took off after reports in Azeri press that one of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs visiting Baku stated that Armenia has agreed to sign off seven occupied regions (this excluding the Lachin corridor which connects Armenia and the NKR). There has been little word about the issue from Armenian officials. Several organizations, mostly administrations of Armenian internet resources, signed a petition against what they call “acts of treason”. The issue is slowly gaining media coverage.

Negotiations between the two sides are conducted behind closed doors, however public opinion generally agrees over the rough details of an agreement, if one is to be reached. It is believed that Armenia will hand over the territories in exchange for an agreement to pass a referendum in the NKR ten years from now. Criticism of such a deal ranges from concerns of the uncertainty of a referendum as far as ten years from now, to outright denunciation of any territorial concessions whatsoever.

There has been similar speculation in the past, however due to several factors it is especially strong this time. There is mounting pressure from the international community, anxious to reach an agreement before Robert Kocharyan leaves office in early 2008. Letting the status quo pass on to the new president might well mean the peace process starts from scratch. The international community’s mild reactions to the 2005 constitutional referendum (which apart from other things grants the president lifelong immunity) and the recent parliamentary elections are seen as leading up to such a move.

On the other hand the possible deal is of major political significance at home. Speculation of Mr. Kocharyan’s future role in Armenian politics has been going on for several months before the recent elections. After Bargavach Hayastan (Prosperous Armenia), a party which was seen by many as the President’s counterweight to Prime Minister Serge Sargsyan’s Republican Party, took significantly fewer parliament seats than expected, Mr. Kоcharyan’s positions appear to have suffered. Securing an agreement now would greatly benefit Armenia’s next president, relieving him of the Karabakh burden both at home and on the international stage. And with hopes of the opposition’s capacity to mount a successful bid for presidency in 2008 Serge Sargsyan is most likely to take control of the president’s office. In that case an agreement today could be a guarantee for Mr. Kocharyan’s political or business future after he leaves office.