A voter takes part in last week's Karabakh presidential elections

STEPANAKERT-The Foreign Ministry of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
issued an announcement Tuesday saying that last week's presidential
election demonstrated the people of Karabakh's commitment to freedom,
democracy and peace-building.

"On July 19, presidential elections were held in the Nagorno-Karabakh
Republic (the Republic of Artsakh) with the participation of 73.4
percent of voters.. International observers from 22 countries, as
well as local representatives of civil society and political parties
monitored the elections. According to the international observers'
preliminary estimate, the elections were held in compliance with
democratic standards and participation of several candidates thus
ensuring free expression of will of the republic's citizens," said
the statement.

"The caliber of the elections held in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is
comparable with that of elections in advanced democratic countries,
and demonstrates the irreversibility of the process of building
a sovereign and independent state, commitment of our people to the
ideals of freedom, democracy and peace building. The elections once
again demonstrated the correctness of the path chosen in the 1991
referendum on independence. With every election the people of the
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic express their firm determination to continue
this path. It is out of the question for the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
to returns to its pre-independence status," affirmed the statement.

"To this end, we consider it necessary to state that the participation
in the elections and the formation of authorities via honest and fair
elections is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed in international
law. Ignoring that and not recognizing it can be regarded as gross
violation of laws," said the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Foreign

"Any speculation that the elections in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
may hinder the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict resolution process is
groundless and pursues propagandist goals. The will of the people of
Karabakh is crucial in the conflict settlement process and this is
fully recognized by the international community and the mediators,"
explained the statement.

"Development of democracy is a fundamental basis of state building
in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and corresponds to the interests of
civilized society. That is why the attitude toward the presidential
elections held in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic cannot be stipulated by
subjective opinion of several political circles displaying conformism
to appease official Baku," concluded the statement.