U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated President Serzh Sarkisian on Monday on his victory in a disputed presidential election, saying that the United States expects to deepen ties with Armenia during his second term.
“I agree with the OSCE/ODIHR preliminary findings that the elections were generally well-administered and characterized by a respect for fundamental freedoms, but there is work that remains to be done,” Kerry wrote in a letter released by Sarkisian’s press service. “Moving forward, I hope Armenia will continue to increase transparency, promote multiple viewpoints in the mainstream media, and encourage citizens’ active participation in reforms and governance, as well as address the outstanding electoral issues raised by the OSCE.”
“During your second term, I hope that the United States and Armenia can work together to pursue the democratic and economic reforms critical to increased bilateral trade and investment,” he said.
Kerry also urged Sarkisian to continue giving “full support” to international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict spearheaded by the U.S., Russia and France. “We cannot be satisfied with the status quo: we must seize this moment to pursue meaningful progress in the peace process,” he said.
Kerry’s congratulation came as a further boost for the international legitimacy of Sarkisian’s reelection even if it remains unclear whether the Armenian leader will receive a similar letter from President Barack Obama.
Sarkisian received no congratulatory message from Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, when he became president in even more disputed circumstances five years ago.
Bush wrote to Sarkisian’s predecessor Robert Kocharian in 2003 after the latter secured reelection in a vote marred by opposition allegations of fraud and strongly criticized by international monitors. However, that letter contained no congratulatory words and expressed instead the then U.S. president’s “disappointment” with the Armenian authorities' handling of the two-round poll.