The Media Center held a discussion featuring the viewpoint of civil society regarding the constitutional reforms. The speakers included: Artak Kirakosyan, head of the Civil Society Institute; Haykuhi Harutyunyan, Protection of Rights without Borders; Vardan Harutyunyan, Center for Rights and Freedom; Armen Grigoryan, member of the You Won’t Pass Initiative; and Stepan Danielyan, Chairman of the Cooperation for Democracy.
Armen Grigoryan highlighted two possible challenges of adopting the constitutional reforms. “The constitutional reforms aim to enhance the longevity of the current authorities - which is a dangerous tendency as such – and it may strengthen the authoritarianism in Armenia. Besides, security issues are a major concern now and President Sargsyan spoke on it in his follow-up speech,” Grigoryan said. The You Won’t Pass Civic Initiative has launched series of discussions and meetings with political groups and society representatives who speak against the proposed constitutional reforms to subsequently define and establish cooperation frameworks.
Vardan Harutyunyan considers the constitutional reforms totally inappropriate. The major concern is not the Constitution of Armenia but the lack of political will, Harutyunyan believes. “Just give the Armenian authorities the best, most perfect constitution, we will have the country we have now.”
The authorities intend to prolong the life of a specific person rather than that of the system, Stepan Danielyan believes. The establishment of parliamentary system of government will solve the issue, Danielyan said.
“The main issue now is the “Serzh Sargsyan’s personal reproduction.” He is facing a serious challenge and seems not to know what direction the process will take. Parliamentary system of government will evolve into problems for the power of a person. Thus, he will try to avoid parliamentary system of government, proposing a hybrid. Sargsyan has not made a final decision yet,” Danielyan said, “I am ready to take part in discussions, go to the referendum and vote for the constitutional reforms only if the Election Code is amended and voter lists are published.”
Artak Kirakosyan, however, believes constitutional reforms are long overdue and civil society organizations should actively participate in the discussions. “Constitutional reforms are vital since the current system hinders the development of the country, with the authorities having leverages in all sectors.”
The concept for constitutional reforms embraces positive human rights related points, Haykuhi Harutyunyan said. The political aspect, though, may overshadow the positive provisions in the document.
Arshaluys Mghdesyan, Editor-Coordinator
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