Bako Sahakian’s victory is a result of a political consensus

By Karine Mangassarian
July 27, 2007

Commenting on the presidential elections held in Nagorno Karabagh on
July 19 representative of the ARF’s Supreme Board Armen Rustamian
stated that despite the unjustified statements made by different
international structures before the elections, the statements did
not have any influence on the attitudes of the Karabagh voters.

"These statements had nothing to do with the processes going on in
the region and the line the people of Karabagh have chosen and are
following up to date," Rustamian stated:

A.R.: The people of Karabagh gave the best response to these groundless
statements by actively participating in the elections. This testifies
that the people of Karabagh take ownership of their fate. The people
showed that they made their choice for their own benefit and not
for the recognition or assessment by any international organizations
pursuing their political interests.

Q: What were the peculiarities of these elections?

A: There are several peculiarities. Particularly, these elections were
held based on the newly adopted constitution. These were the first
presidential elections for a country that has a constitution. People
were electing a president whose authority is clearly defined as
opposed to the last elections when the president’s authority was
defined by laws. Finally, it should be stated that the whole process
of the elections deserves the highest praise.

We visited almost all precincts in Hadrut region and observed a
highly active participation. The turnout figure that was announced
fully corresponds to the reality. The second important peculiarity
is that the mechanisms provided for in the Electoral Code of the
Nagorno Karabagh Republic make the expression of the people’s will
fully possible. We have not observed any violations in any of the
precincts that we visited.

Proxies of all candidates were present. There are no doubts that
these elections corresponded to the international standards.

Q: International observers also visited Nagorno Karabagh Republic to
observe the elections. The international observers had a positive
assessment of the elections in their statements. How do you think
these statements can reach the international organizations dealing
with the Karabagh settlement?

A: The international observers did not represent politicized

They were mostly from NGOs, experts of the electoral process who
had experience of observation missions. Our interactions with
the observers showed that they too had a good impression of the
elections. These international NGOs are rather famous and have
experience of international observation of elections.

Their statements should not be ignored by the international political
organizations. The latter must listen to these statements. Not
taking this into consideration means closing your eyes not to see the
reality. I think this strategy cannot last long and sooner or later
the fact of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic will be internationally
recognized. They should understand that the Nagorno Karabagh Republic
is a full-fledged state, it is a consolidated state with all its
attributes. Any neutral observer who visited Karabagh can confirm
this. All this will lead the international community to consider the
facts and recognize the Nagorno Karabagh Republic.

Q: The OSCE Chairman-in-Office Moratinos made a statement saying "The
presidential elections in the Nagonro Karabagh Republic should not
affect the peaceful settlement of the conflict." What is the logic
behind this statement?

A: It should be noted that the international organizations that view
this issue on the platform of recognition or non-recognition are
putting themselves in a very funny situation.

It is the right of any state or organization but denunciation of
elections is not only strange but those who denounce the elections
often make themselves more vulnerable. These organizations put forward
two arguments both of which are groundless. The first argument is
that since the conflict is not resolved yet such elections hinder
the settlement process.

This is a completely groundless statement because people living in
Karabagh cannot wait for the political settlement of the conflict. It
is the people’s primary right to organize their lives in accordance
with the accomplishments of the humanity. These accomplishments
include the people’s right to form their government democratically
and in a sovereign manner. If they do not accept this, what do they
offer? Nothing.

They say, wait till the conflict is settled. What does this
mean? People are living and they cannot wait. The conflict’s being
frozen does not mean that people’s lives are also frozen. This is
where an illogical situation emerges.

The other argument is that the elections cannot be legitimate because
the not all the citizens living in this territory participate in them,
meaning the displaced persons and the refugees. If we think in this
way, the elections in Azerbaijan are also not legitimate because a
great number of people that are refugees today do not participate in
the presidential elections in Azerbaijan.

Double standards should not be applied. Those who made these statements
should answer why they are preventing democratic processes in the
region. It is these statements that hinder the democratic development
of the region.

Human rights and the rights of the people must dominate over any
other rights, political interests and calculations. I am sure the
international organizations will come to understand this with time.

Q: The high turnout was and the majority of votes for Bako Sahakian
were discussed in the post-electoral period. How justified are these

A: People often say that the high turnout and the votes received by
Bako Sahakian seem to cast a shadow over the democratic processes
in Karabagh.

But we should take into consideration two important factors. First
of all, we are speaking about a united candidate. Bako Sahakian
was the united candidate of the main influential political forces in
Karabagh. These forces do have such a wide public support. And it took
them quite some time to get to the nomination of a united candidate.

This was an agreement reached through long negotiations based on the
most important issues and the interests of the Karabagh people. The
people of a non-recognized republic are doing their best to get
recognition for their state and to be able to form a government that
would ensure its security. In other words, the issue of a secure
future is much more important for the Karabagh people than for other
countries. This is the reason for the voters’ activeness and the high
turnout. People voted for the candidate who can ensure their security
in the best possible way.
From: Baghdasarian