The European Union offered on Thursday to help the Armenian authorities carry out a “comprehensive and far-reaching judicial reform,” saying that it is vital for the country’s continued democratization.
“We welcome the unequivocal commitment by the Armenian Government to pursue justice reform in accordance with the Armenian Constitution and Armenia's international commitments, in particular those stemming from its membership in the Council of Europe and in consultation with civil society and international experts, including the Venice Commission,” read a joint statement released by the EU Delegation in Yerevan and the embassies of EU member states.
“The independence and impartiality of the judiciary is a fundamental pillar of the constitutional order and the rule of law,” the statement said, adding that the EU “stands ready to provide technical and financial assistance” for that purpose.
Thorbjorn Jagland, the Council of Europe secretary general, discussed the issue with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian by phone on Wednesday.
“A delegation of Council of Europe experts will travel to Yerevan in the next days to offer advice and assistance with the necessary reforms,” the Strasbourg-based organization said in a readout of the phone call.
On Tuesday, two representatives of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) expressed concern at Pashinian’s weekend calls for his supporters to block the entrances to all court buildings in Armenia. They at the same time welcomed Pashinian’s “stated desire for far-reaching reform of the judicial system.”
Pashinian urged the court blockade following a Yerevan court’s controversial decision to order former President Robert Kocharian released from prison pending the outcome of his trial on coup charges denied by him.
The premier said on Monday that Armenian courts remains closely linked to the country’s “corrupt” former leaders and therefore cannot be impartial. He announced plans for a mandatory “vetting” of all judges and said many of them should quit even before the start of such a process.