ANKARA: Armenian Refusal To Grant Visas To Observers Not To Enhance

ARMENIAN REFUSAL TO GRANT VISAS TO OBSERVERS NOT TO ENHANCE TIES – TURKEY

Anatolia News Agency, Turkey
May 7 2007

ANKARA (A.A) -07.05.2007 -"Armenia refused to grant visas to Turkish
observers who were assigned by the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at the parliamentary election on May 12th
in Armenia," Levent Bilman, Spokesman of Turkish Foreign Ministry,
told reporters on Monday.

Bilman said that the OSCE observers stated that Armenian authorities
would not grant visas to the short term observer delegation of 8
Turks (assigned by the OSCE under the Election Observation Mission)
on May 6th – hours before its departure for Yerevan – for the
Parliamentary elections on May 12th. Bilman indicated that OSCE,
upon this development, cancelled the trip.

Bilman emphasized that this attitude of Armenia – which is far from
constructive dialogue – can cause consequences that would not serve
Armenia’s expectations for enhancing its relations with neighbours
and integration with the international community.

Bilman called on all countries and international organizations –
which attach importance to democratic improvement of Armenia as well
as development of good relations with neighbours and regional peace –
to draw necessary conclusions from this decision of Armenia.

On the other hand, Christian Strohal, the Director of the OSCE Office
for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), said he was
concerned about visa problems that some official election observers
face when entering Armenia ahead of the May 12th parliamentary
elections.

"An invitation to observe elections is an invitation to all OSCE
participating states, and is issued in order to ensure equal treatment
and strengthen the diversity of observation," said Strohal.

"Preventing some observers from participating contradicts the
principles of transparency and objectivity which are an indispensable
aspect of democratic elections," he noted.

According to a release at OSCE’s web-site, Armenian authorities
informed the ODIHR that they would not issue visas to eight observers,
all of them of Turkish nationality, who were expected to arrive in
the country today.

The ODIHR Director stressed that this refusal came unexpectedly and
no official reason was given as to why the observers could not enter
the country.

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