Armenian Foreign Ministry Comment On Matt Bryza’s Statements


March 12, 2008

YEREVAN, MARCH 12, ARMENPRESS: "We’re astonished that even after his
visit to Yerevan, after meeting with and hearing from various official
and unofficial sources, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt
Bryza could make such arbitrary statements," Tigran Balayan, head
of the foreign ministry’s press division, said according to a press
release forwarded to Armenpress in comments on Bryza’s statement
regarding the latest developments in Armenia.

"Assigning such one-sided blame is unfounded and not helpful. The
number of wounded law enforcement officers (108) — 43 of them wounded
by firearms and hand-grenades — clearly demonstrates that rioters
were in possession of firearms and explosives. That coincides with the
operative information of law enforcement agencies which had informed
the public about all this, days before the events of March 1. In
that case, labeling the reaction of the government as "a crackdown
on opposition protests", or qualifying it as "harsh and brutal" is
incorrect. This was not at all an attack by policemen on civilians,"
he said.

According to him, the violence of March 1 is indeed of great concern
to all of us in Armenia, including and foremost, the government,
which believes it is responsible for the maintenance of public order
and safety.

He said it attempted to do so, exercising restraint, but as law
enforcement bodies had earlier cautioned, turned into a clash between
officers and demonstrators. With eight people dead (including one
policeman) and dozens injured (many from law enforcement), there
is no doubt that this was serious violence, and indeed deplorable,
as Mr. Bryza says.

"Armenia’s challenge, now, 10 days after that disastrous day, is
to fully explore and understand what happened and find ways to move
forward together.

The international community’s focus should be to encourage all involved
to take responsibility for the damage to the fabric of our society
and to look for inclusive ways to move forward.

Ill-informed statements can and do contribute to an escalation of
political tension.’

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