The Media Center held an online debate entitled “Constitutional Reforms: Recent Developments” broadcast at A1+ TV channel. The speakers included: Hovhannes Sahakyan, MP, Republican Party; Artsvik Minasyan, MP, ARF Party; Armen Martirosyan, Deputy Head of the Heritage Party; Avetik Ishkhanyan, Chairman of Armenia's Helsinki Committee; Hovhannes Galstyan, expert at the Institute of Public Policy, Analysis and Dialogue; and Ruben Sargsyan, Head of the APR Group.
Earlier the Heritage, Armenian National Congress and Prosperous Armenia spoke against the constitutional reforms. They describe amendments as a mere imitation because they do not spring from public demand while the economic, political and social problems the country faces can be solved with the current constitution.
Hovhannes Sahakyan who does not agree with such an approach, said the Government made the political decision to reform the Constitution after long consultations. The establishment of parliamentary democracy in Armenia does not aim to reproduce the current authorities but strengthen political and party system. “The parliamentary democracy will create better conditions for parties to sustain and become independent from individuals,” Sahakyan said.
Artsvik Minasyan spoke against presidential and semi-presidential government models: “Evidently, these systems do not ensure sustainable development and protection of democratic values. We have the experience of only two successful presidential and semi-presidential democracies - USA and France. However, the two models are not compatible with Armenia.”
Since the collapse of the USSR the constitutional reforms in Armenia sprang not from the public demand but to facilitate the political programs of the authorities, Armen Martirosyan believes. “The current reforms are initiated as Serzh Sargsyan seeks to ensure the office of the parliament’s head,” Martirosyan said and added their party is determined to participate in the discussion of constitutional reforms if the party’s three proposals are accepted.
Avetik Ishkhanyan said the current Constitution is a document leading to nowhere because all the levers are concentrated in the hands of the President. "It is impossible to speak about legitimate government, independent judiciary system and local authorities now,” Ishkhanyan said, noting the society in Armenia lacks the demand for reforms since the “servile mentality” dominates in the country.
However, Ishkhanyan stressed: “I can’t recall any such case the government has its powers voluntarily limited. Maybe the President does not want to be a young pensioner. I cannot say anything unless I see the final draft of reforms.
Hovhannes Galstyan believes for legitimate constitutional changes a wide social and political consolidation is required “otherwise we will have a country such as the Philippines or Malaysia. That is, an authoritarian system will be formed when a party takes power through manipulation of election and keeps it.”
Arshaluys Mghdesyan, Editor-Coordinator
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