Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian met with Yerevan-based foreign diplomats on Wednesday to discuss his administration’s controversial decision to hold a referendum on replacing most members of Armenia’s Constitutional Court.
The diplomats invited to the meeting included the ambassadors of Russia, the United States and European Union member states as well as the head of the EU Delegation in Armenia.
“During the meeting, the prime minister addressed in detail the existing situation around the Constitutional Court, the forthcoming referendum on constitutional changes and the circumstances of holding it,” Pashinian’s press office said in a statement.
He then answered questions from the diplomats, the statement said. It gave no other details.
Parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, a key Pashinian ally, met with the ambassadors the night before the Armenian parliament decided on February 6 to hold a referendum on constitutional amendments drafted by its pro-government majority.
The amendments call for ending the powers of seven of the nine Constitutional Court judges accused by Pashinian of being linked to Armenia’s “corrupt former regime.” Opposition lawmakers reject them as unconstitutional. They say that the authorities should have consulted with legal experts from the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission before putting the proposed changes on the referendum scheduled for April 5.
Two representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) likewise urged the authorities last week to submit the draft amendments to the Venice Commission for examination “as soon as possible.” A senior Armenian lawmaker countered that Yerevan is under no legal obligation to seek such judgment.
Russia, the U.S. and other Western powers have made no public statements on the Armenian referendum so far.