09:56, 4 February, 2013

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 4, ARMENPRESS: Presidential Elections are scheduled
in Armenia on February 18, the pre- election campaign kicked off
January 21 and will last till February 16. Armenpress had an interview
with international expert, (ICES) Center for Electoral Systems
observer mission president, Dr. Alexander Tsinker over Armenia's
Presidential elections, the launch of pre- election campaign, election
procedure and a number of other issues.

-Pre - election campaign kicked off in Armenia on January 21. Your
estimation about pre-election situation in Armenia. Are all the
candidates enjoying equal campaign conditions?

-Pre -election campaign declared its launch in Armenia on January 21.

Many experts believe they are going to be predictable and boring. Yet
the campaign proved quite another march of events. Presidential
candidate Andrias Ghukasyan decided to announce a hunger strike thus
proposing his requirements. Another candidate Aram Harutyuanyan is
going to support him, besides two other candidates Paruyr Hayrikyan
(before the assassination attempt) and Arman Melikyan are choosing
versions for participating in Presidential elections.

What regards to the fact that first and second Presidents of the
Republic of Armenia are not running for Presidential elections really
decreases the tenseness of electoral process, yet it cannot be
considered a violation. It is wrong to say no competitive elections
are going to be held. The competition conducted among three
Presidential candidates namely Hrant Bagratyan, Paruyr Hayrikyan and
Raffi Hovhannisyan come to prove the scheduled elections are set to
arise great interest among the population. ICES-delegation once again
calls on all presidential candidates to hold free and transparent
campaign, urges Government forces to ensure the equal application of
law and reportedly punish the violators.

-Armenia's authorities have repeatedly expressed their willingness to
launch unprecedented elections. Does your observations record grounds
for the launch of elections in compliance with the international law ?

Dwelling about the international standards, which will ensure free and
transparent elections, we should note the following:

ICES coming forth with the discussion of characteristics of the
Election Code of the Republic of Armenia on January 21 underscored the
document contains the basic elements which will enable to hold
democratic elections. The latest version of the Code take into account
all considerations and observations recorded by OSCE / ODIHR and the
Venice Commission. All the articles of Armenia's Electoral Code will
enable a chance to launch elections meeting the interest of the

-Is your observation group equipped with necessary resources to launch
observation mission? Which provinces ICES center observers are going
to monitor during February 18 Presidential elections?

-ICES long-term observers delegation started their work on February 1
and currently are provided with all resources for the launch of
monitoring. We are collaborating with CEC, have scheduled meetings
with Presidential candidates, are going to get acquainted with
pre-election campaign preparatory works, the directions of the
observers on the day of elections are being elaborated.

The observers' groups are going to be concentrated in Capital
Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor. On the day of elections the observation
groups are scheduled to head to pre-determined destinations, follow
the voting process and vote account.

35 ICES observers are going to monitor February 18 Presidential
Elections, yet the Center does not announce in advance which
destinations they are going head.

Prepared by Seda Manukyan