YEREVAN — The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe officially launched on Wednesday its observation mission for Armenia’s parliamentary elections slated for June 20.

“The mission will assess to what extent the elections are held in line with international obligations and standards for democratic elections,” the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said in a statement.

The mission head, Eoghan Murphy, told reporters that the ODIHR plans to deploy 11 election experts and 24 long-term observers in Armenia in the coming days and weeks.

Murphy said it will also ask OSCE member states to send 250 short-term observers who will monitor voting and ballot counting at polling stations across the country. Both he and the ODIHR statement cautioned that their arrival could be hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This remains dependent on developments in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, including health concerns, travel and border restrictions across the OSCE region, and related regulations within Armenia,” said the statement.

The OSCE/ODIHR has traditionally deployed the largest international vote-monitoring missions in Armenia. Their findings have been crucial for the international legitimacy of Armenian elections.

The chief of the Armenian government’s staff, Arsen Torosyan, and the chairman of the Central Election Commission, Tigran Mukuchyan, discussed preparations for the upcoming elections with Yerevan-based foreign diplomats on Tuesday.

Torosyan assured the diplomats that the government will do its best to ensure that the vote is free and fair. According to a government statement, he also touched upon the pandemic’s possible impact on its conduct.

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