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Yerevan Awaiting Council Of Europe Verdict On Constitution


By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The Armenian authorities were waiting on Thursday for the crucial findings of Council of Europe experts that have examined their revised draft amendments to the country’s constitution.

Experts from the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional law, were expected to deliver their written opinion on Wednesday.

“The opinion is not ready yet,” a senior commission member told RFE/RL. “I suppose it will be finished tonight.”

According to deputy parliament speaker Tigran Torosian, who heads the Armenian delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the delay was caused by last-minute “clarifications” requested from Strasbourg.

“I had a phone conversation last night with representatives of the Venice Commission,” Torosian told RFE/RL. “They were asking for a number of clarifications and explanations. Those were presented during the phone conversation, and since their working day was also drawing to an end they promised to submit the conclusion today.”

Torosian refused to divulge details of those discussions, saying only that they do not concern “issues of principle.” He said the Armenian opposition’s conditions for supporting the amendments drafted by President Robert Kocharian and his governing coalition have not been discussed either.

“There was naturally no conversation on demands by the opposition or anybody else,” he said. “Those talks may touch on issues raised by the opposition or other parliament deputies. What matters is whether one or another provision meets European standards.”

The changes in Kocharian’s constitutional draft are supposed to stem from an agreement reached by official Yerevan and the Venice Commission last month. Their approval by the Council of Europe would give the Armenian authorities a major boost in their dispute with the opposition.
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