Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 11

Armenian prime minister Armen Sarkisian’s working visit to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the U.S. has developed into a long series of meetings with senior U.S. government officials who are said to be urging observance of democracy in Armenia. Vice-President Al Gore, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, and other officials have reportedly pressed for the lifting of restrictions on mass media, freedom of operation for political parties, and the holding of early parliamentary elections this year. Concurrently, Sarkisian and some U.S. officials in Washington and Yerevan met with representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, a major opposition party banned in Armenia.

Sarkisian has responded to these various admonitions during his visit with a series of statements enthusiastically endorsing freedom for the political opposition, independent media, transparency in government, and promising early corrective steps on these issues. Sarkisian presented those goals as shared by himself and his cabinet with President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s team. Yet they are obviously at variance with the presidential camp’s authoritarian course. Sarkisian also pledged that Armenia would become "the country most friendly to the West and the USA in the Transcaucasus." This stand, too, differs from Ter-Petrosian’s orientation toward alignment with Russia. (Noyan-Tapan, Asbarez news service, January 13-15)

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