(Saturday, July 5)
July 5 is a public holiday in Armenia marking the 19th anniversary of the adoption of the country’s post-Soviet constitution. Some Armenian newspapers carry commentaries on the occasion.
“Almost all constitutional provisions are violated in Armenia on an almost daily basis,” claims “168 Zham.” The paper says that over the past two decades practically every Armenian government has trampled on Article 2 of the constitution, which stipulates “that power in the Republic of Armenia belongs to the people.” It says that the authorities have paid a heavy price for the systematic violation of this clause through vote rigging. Not to Armenians but foreign powers and Russia in the first instance. The paper says President Serzh Sarkisian’s unexpected decision last year to abandon an Association Agreement with the European Union and seek Armenia’s membership in a Russian-led bloc instead was the most recent and perhaps serious payment of this kind.
“If we conduct a random poll on the street it is doubtful that it would occur to even one in ten respondents that today is Constitution Day,” writes “Zhamanak.” The paper says few Armenians care about their constitution because they realize that their country is far from having the rule of law.
Interviewed by “Hayots Ashkhar,” Aram Karapetian, the leader of the opposition Nor Zhamanakner (New Times) party, comments on reasons for the delay in Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). “The political factor behind it is that President [Vladimir] Putin has become weaker and lacks the power to push through any decision and has to maneuver between [Kazakhstan’s Nursultan] Nazarbayev and [Belarus’s Aleksandr] Lukashenko,” claims Karapetian. “The latter are openly saying that they are not interested in Armenia’s membership, first of all because they consider Armenia too big a burden in the economic sense. Secondly, Nazarbayev is playing games on the Turkish front.”
“But the most important thing is the uncertainty over Ukraine, which is calling into question the expediency of the EEU’s existence without Ukraine’s participation,” Karapetian goes on. “Nevertheless, I think that these issues will be solved by the end of this year. If the Ukrainian and Middle Eastern crises do not escalate much, the issue of Armenia’s membership will be solved this fall.”