By Tigran Avetisian
YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The United States expects Armenia to hold parliamentary and presidential elections that will be widely regarded as democratic, according to John Heffern, the new US ambassador in Yerevan.
“We are working together so that Armenia’s important national elections in 2012 and 2013 are the best elections ever and fully consistent with international standards,” Heffern said late on Monday, just hours after handing his credentials to President Serge Sargisian.
He said the issue was on the agenda of his “very good” meetings with Sargisian and Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian.
Washington has been critical of the Armenian authorities’ handling of just about every major election held in the country since 1995. In particular, it considers the last presidential ballot held in 2008 “significantly flawed.”
Heffern’s predecessor, Marie Yovanovitch, stressed the importance of ending Armenian’s post-Soviet culture of electoral fraud and effecting other “deep and difficult changes” in a speech last February.