Armenia’s possible accession to new “supranational” alliances would have to be put on a referendum and approved by most voters, according to one of the constitutional changes drafted by a commission formed by President Serzh Sarkisian.
The proposed clause has prompted diametrically opposite interpretations by representatives of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and Zharangutyun (Heritage), one of the opposition parties rejecting the constitutional reform.
Armen Martirosian, Zharangutyun’s deputy chairman, claimed on Wednesday that the draft amendment, if passed, will make it easier for the Armenian authorities to further “limit our sovereignty.” He said this might occur through an eventual transformation of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) into a more tightly-knit and political bloc led by Russia.
Zharangutyun is the sole parliamentary force to have openly opposed Armenia’s membership in the EEU, which took effect in early January. The party says that the EEU, which also comprises Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, was cobbled together by Russia with the ultimate aim of restoring the Soviet Union. The Sarkisian administration has dismissed such claims.
“On paper, the Soviet Union was a union of effectively independent states,” Martirosian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But in reality, all key decisions were the prerogative of the central government.”
“A similar situation may emerge now. This new constitution allows that,” he claimed.
Hovannes Sahakian, a senior HHK lawmaker, disagreed, saying that the amendment in question would on the contrary serve as an additional safeguard against arbitrary government decisions endangering Armenia’s national independence. “I don’ think that we should look for dangers here,” he said. “I don’t see anything bad here.”
Ara Ghazarian, an independent legal, expert, also defended the proposed change. “It’s better to make such decisions in a referendum than in someone’s office,” he said.
“The EEU is a case in point,” Ghazarian went on, recalling Sarkisian’s unexpected decision in September 2013 to make Armenia part of the Russian-led union. The decision was announced immediately after Sarkisian’s talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.