“Zhoghovurd” plays down the significance of a leaked report on a recent meeting of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission which discussed judicial reforms planned by the Armenian authorities. The paper claims that the commission’s official position on the issue differs from criticism of the authorities voiced at that meeting. “The Venice Commission is still awaiting a broad package of documents [from Yerevan] which will be put up for public debate and envisage comprehensive reforms of the [judicial] sector,” it says.
“Regardless of the official reaction of the Venice Commission, it is obvious that trust towards courts is a very serious problem and that problem must be solved as soon as possible,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “Whether that will be done through a general vetting or other mechanisms is a different issue. The most important thing for us is to have a positive result whereby the public will trust judges and courts. Put simply, it is better to solve the problem at the expense of disagreements with the Venice Commission than to try to do everything to please that commission and to that end take half-measures that would not produce the desired result.” The pro-government paper goes on to slam opposition figures for portraying the Venice Commission document critical of the authorities as “absolute and irrefutable truth.” “These are the same circles that say on other occasions that European and other international structures desecrate our national identity and value system,” it says.
For its part, “Zhamanak” blames the former chairman of the Armenian Constitutional Court and Supreme Judicial Council, Gagik Harutiunian, and an expert on constitutional law, Vartan Poghosian, for the Venice Commission criticism. The paper says that Harutiunian remains Armenia’s representative to the commission. It says Harutiunian is also the “spiritual father” of Hrayr Tovmasian, the current Constitutional Court chairman.