By Hrach Melkumian
A senior member of the Armenian Parliament has confirmed the willingness of the country’s authorities to address the recent recommendations of the Council of Europe regarding the planned constitutional reform.
Deputy Parliament Speaker Tigran Torosian told RFE/RL that the position of the Armenian authorities is clearly stated in a memorandum that reads: “The authorities of the Republic of Armenia intend to introduce serious changes in the draft in the mentioned three directions within the framework of the proposals of the Venice Commission.”
Armenia is to submit a concrete document addressing these recommendations by June 20 and three days later the package of constitutional amendments will be discussed in Strasbourg.
During a recent visit to Armenia Venice Commission representatives suggested that Armenian authorities should rethink their draft package of constitution amendments in three main directions regarding separation of powers. More specifically, they recommend that Yerevan’s mayor should be elected, that the president should not form the Justice Council and should have limited powers to change or dissolve the government.
The Venice Commission’s later intermediate conclusion was similar.
Torosian, who attended the meeting in Venice, quoted the document adopted there: “The Venice Commission expresses its disappointment over the course of constitutional reforms.”
But he added that this evaluation concerns the draft constitutional reforms adopted in the first reading.
After hearing this evaluation in Yerevan, Armenian authorities reached an agreement with the Venice Commission officials that irrespective of whether the issue will be put on the agenda of the summer session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe or not, the package of constitutional amendments will be discussed in Strasbourg on June 23.
According to Torosian, now Armenia has only two choices on its way to amend the constitution.
“Either we will really have a good draft and it will be adopted through a referendum, opening qualitatively new opportunities for the country, or we will continue to waste our time,” he told RFE/RL.
Among the opportunities that a properly amended constitution holds out for Armenia Torosian sees not only those connected with
European integration or development. He says that this step will also create new opportunities in the Karabakh settlement.
In Torosian’s opinion, there is a new phase beginning for Armenia on its way toward European integration in which the country “must score successes and make qualitative achievements”.
“Otherwise, we will get a very sad picture,” he added. “And we must understand that qualitative changes and achievements can be made not necessarily through changing names in the government, but also with clear ideas, clear projects and strategy.”