New President of Artsakh Samvel Shahramanyan

STEPANAKERT—The National Assembly of Artsakh elected Samvel Shahramanyan, the Minister of State, as the new President on Saturday, September 9. Twenty-two MPs voted in favor of the only candidate, one voted against, and no ballots were declared invalid.

Samvel Shahramanyan was the sole candidate nominated for the position of Artsakh president. Shahramanyan received support from former President Arayik Harutyunyan’s “Free Fatherland” party and three opposition groups. The 44-year-old has held various positions in the local security apparatus for over two decades.

The “United Fatherland” party, representing the fifth party in Karabakh’s 32-seat parliament, boycotted the vote after its leader, Samvel Babayan, was deemed ineligible to run for president due to not having lived in Karabakh for the past ten years.

Arayik Harutyunyan announced his resignation on August 31, and on September 1, he submitted his resignation to the National Assembly. Before his resignation, Arayk Harutyunyan relieved Gurgen Nersisyan of the position of Minister of State of Artsakh and appointed Samvel Shahramanian as Secretary of the Security Council to that position.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry quickly condemned Shahramanyan’s election as a “blatant violation” of international law and Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh. It claimed that Armenia and the “separatist regime” in Stepanakert “have taken the path of provocations and escalation of the situation.”

Turkey also condemned the presidential elections held today in Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to the Azerbaijani “Trend” news agency, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry described it as “a new manifestation of the attempt to legitimize the situation in the region, which contradicts international law.”

According to Ankara, “that step [elections in Artsakh] is a violation of international law, including UN Security Council resolutions and OSCE principles.”

The European Union spokesperson Nabila Massrali issued a statement disapproving of the election.

“In view of the so-called ‘presidential elections’ in Khankendi/Stepanakert on 9 September 2023, the European Union reiterates that it does not recognize the constitutional and legal framework within which they have been held.

At the same time, the EU believes that it is important for the Karabakh Armenians to consolidate around de facto leadership that is able and willing to engage in result-oriented discussions with Baku. The EU is committed to supporting this process.” Read the statement.

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