GEERT AHRENS: WE HAVE COME TO ARMENIA OPEN-MINDEDLY AND EXPECT TO REGISTER DEMOCRATIC PROGRESS

Noyan Tapan
Jan 10, 2008

YEREVAN, JANUARY 10, NOYAN TAPAN. The 11 main specialists and 28
long-term observers of OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and
Human Rights (ODIHR), who have arrived in Armenia for the purpose
of observing the presidential elections to be held on February 19
in Armenia, will start their activity in different regions of the
country from January 15.

Ambassador Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, the head of the OSCE/ODIHR monitoring
mission in Armenia, said at the January 10 press conference. According
to him, ODIHR will also send 250 short-term observers to Armenia
for observing the processes of opening of polling stations, voting,
calculation of ballot-papers and tabulation of results.

The head of the monitoring mission attached importance to the role
of media in the issue of holding the elections emphasizing that
"in some cases the role of media can be also decisive."

According to Geert Ahrens, the mission will estimate the election
process according to the standards of OSCE democratic elections,
as well as national standards, and national legislation. "We have
come to Armenia open-mindedly and believe that democratic progress
will be registered during the elections," Ambassador Ahrens emphasized.

Ambassador Geert Ahrens also said that before the voting day the
monitoring mission will make two interim statements and the day after
the elections, on February 20, will come up with a final conclusion
on the preliminary results. The monitoring mission will publish its
final conclusion on the elections two months later.

The journalists also asked questions about the presidential elections
held in Georgia, before and after which a number of non-unequivocal
incidents were observed, whereas OSCE gave a positive estimation to
those elections.

Can that estimation become a bad example for Armenia, a journalist
asked. "I have been an observer of elections in a number of countries,
including Georgian local elections. It is advised to the head of each
monitoring mission to focus his attention on the country where he
implements that mission. Another person has implemented the monitoring
mission in Georgia, I do not wish to speak instead of him," Ambassador
Geert Ahrens said.