Armenia. The February presidential election was won as
expected by incumbent Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, who
was backed by the outgoing president. According to the
official result, Sarkisian received 52.8 percent of the vote
against 21.5 for opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian,
who held the presidential office from 1991-98.
Countryaah reports, the European Security and Cooperation Organization (OSCE)
declared that the elections were essentially of
international standard, but the opposition accused the
authorities of electoral fraud. Mass rallies with tens of
thousands of protesters followed and protesters pitched tent
camps on Freedom Square in Yerevan. Outgoing President
Robert Kotjarjan accused the opposition of trying to seize
power, and he introduced a state of emergency following
violence between police and protesters when eight people
were killed and many injured.
The state of emergency was revoked after three weeks.
More than 100 opposition activists, including several
politicians, had been arrested for riots and coup attempts.
Parliament passed a new law that made it possible to ban
demonstrations that were assumed to threaten public order.
Figures during the year showed that Armenia's economy had
grown by 13.7 percent in 2007. But Armenia is still one of
the poorest countries in the former Soviet Union and heavily
dependent on Russia's financial support.
In the autumn, signs of thawing relations with Armenia's
neighboring countries came. Turkish President Abdullah G邦l
came to visit in connection with the first international
football match between the two countries. It was the first
time a Turkish leader visited Armenia. G邦l was met by angry
demonstrations demanding that he recognize the Turkish
genocide of Armenians in 1915, the major dispute between the
countries. However, after talks with the President of
Armenia, G邦l explained that there are no problems that
cannot be solved with dialogue.
In November, Armenian and Azerbaijan leaders signed an
agreement to resolve their dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The talks were led by the President of Russia, and the US
and France also participated in the work on a diplomatic
solution. The war between Russia and Georgia in August
contributed to renewed international efforts to resolve the
conflicts in the Caucasus.