President Serzh Sarkisian has yet to drum up strong multi-partisan support for his controversial plans to amend Armenia’s constitution, a leading member of his Republican Party (HHK) admitted on Friday.
Sarkisian and the HHK have repeatedly stressed the importance of a “broad-based political consolidation” for the success of the planned constitutional reform. Sarkisian met with leaders of virtually all major Armenian opposition parties for that purpose in March. He urged them to submit proposals to a presidential commission tasked with drafting amendments to the constitution.
Only two of the five opposition parties represented in the National Assembly proposed concrete changes to the commission afterwards. One of them, Orinats Yerkir, made clear that it is against Armenia’s transformation into a parliamentary republic, which seems to be favored by Sarkisian.
The three other opposition parties -- Prosperous Armenia (BHK), Zharangutyun and the Armenian National Congress (HAK) -- remain adamant in rejecting the reform. Their leaders insist that it is aimed at prolonging Sarkisian’s rule.
Vahram Baghdasarian, the ruling HHK’s parliamentary leader, acknowledged the lack of political support for the reform process. He criticized the BHK, Zharangutyun and the HAK for boycotting the process but expressed hope that they will eventually reconsider their position.
Baghdasarian stressed that the presidential body is still open to opposition proposals. “But the submission of proposals alone does not allow us to speak of a broad-based consolidation,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “There may be diametrically opposite views among them.”
The Armenian parliament controlled by the HHK is expected to open debates on the commission’s package of amendments in September. Some HHK representatives have said that the changes approved by the parliament will be put on a referendum early next year.