On October 10-12, a seminar “Elections of 2003 in South Caucasus Countries and their Impact on Regional Processes” took place in Tsaghkadzor. It was organized by Yerevan Press Club with the support of Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Its participants – representatives of Armenian media and public organizations actively involved in regional processes – discussed those changes in the South Caucasus that are already underway and still anticipated in different life spheres of the region after current year elections. The urgency of the seminar by itself may be accounted for by important inner political transformations underway in the region. Immediately after presidential and parliamentary elections in Armenia, presidential elections in Azerbaijan are scheduled (15 October), and on November 2 in Georgia new legislative body of the country will be elected. Khachatur Bezirjian, previously Head of Central Electoral Commission of Armenia for many years and now Advisor to president of RA Civil Service Council, spoke about the peculiarities of election campaign in Azerbaijan. The presentation by Laura Baghdasarian, Director of “Region” Research Center of Association of Investigative Journalists, was devoted to the impact of coming elections in Georgia on the internal life of the country. President of Armenian Center of Political and International Research, Aghasi Yenokian analyzed possible consequences of the elections in Armenia for its relations with neighboring countries.
Head of “European Integration” NGO, Karen Bekarian addressed elections of 2003 in the three South Caucasus countries through the prism of integration of the latter in the Western structures. Observer of “Golos Armenii” newspaper, Aris Ghazinian offered an insight into Azerbaijani and Georgian election coverage by the Armenian press. In the presentation by YPC President Boris Navasardian, the issue of election impact on regional media activity was raised. According to Boris Navasardian, election campaigns in South Caucasus countries, against all expectations, do not serve as a stimulus for democratic development; on the contrary, they lead to restriction of civil freedoms, freedom of expression included.