EU Delegation in Armenia Urges Transparent Investigation of ‘Alleged Fraud’

Armenia-eu EU Delegation in Armenia issues statement regarding electoral violations during the referendum on December 6.

On December 10, the EU Delegation in Armenia issued a statement concerning the December 6 referendum for constitutional reform establishing a parliamentary republic.

Just one day after the vote on December 7, the EU and Armenia officially launched a new stage of cooperation, citing the ‘yes’ vote for reform as an important step towards advancing Armenia’s aspirations in this partnership. The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe has characterized the reform as “extremely high quality” and “in line with international standards.”

The referendum process, however, has been highly criticized. The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) labeled it as “illegitimate” due an “unprecedented number of violations of the electoral law and international standards which had systemic character.” These violations include ballot box stuffing and manipulation of voter lists, as well as intimidation and threatening of journalists and independent citizen observers by Republican Party proxies. About 700 observers and 700 journalists were present at 500 of the 1997 voting stations throughout the country. The EPDE also expressed disappointment with the campaign leading up to the referendum, which aggressively pushed amendments forward with no civic debate.

Below is the full text of the European Union Delegation’s statement in agreement with the EU Members States Heads of Mission in Armenia:

The EU has been following the constitutional reform process launched in 2013, including the two largely positive preliminary opinions of the Venice Commission, which the EU supports as standard bearer of constitutional norms in Europe.

We take note of the preliminary results of the constitutional referendum held on 6 December 2015. We also take note of the concerns expressed by independent observers regarding the conduct of the referendum. We urge the Armenian authorities to fully investigate in a transparent manner credible fraud allegations.

Without a transparent investigation of the alleged frauds as well as remediation if these are confirmed, the referendum would be a missed opportunity to increase the confidence in, and the integrity of, electoral processes in Armenia. Should the results of the referendum be officially confirmed, we underline that it is important to implement the new constitution, in particular the human rights chapter, the new checks and balances and minority rights for the opposition.

We reiterate the need to adopt a new Electoral Code, in line with OSCE ODIHR recommendations, in an inclusive manner and one year before the next round of ordinary parliamentary elections.

The EU will continue to assist Armenia on its internal political, social and economic reform processes, based on the future new legal framework for bilateral cooperation and within the larger perspective of the Eastern Partnership.