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Vartan Oskanian: Constitutional reform in Armenia looks to help one person retain his grip on power

Vartan Oskanian, Armenian MP. Photo: 168. am

There are neither public nor political preconditions for a constitutional reform in Armenia.  The country has never faced either political or constitutional crisis, Vartan Oskanian, ex-minister of foreign affairs of Armenia, MP, says in a Facebook post. The ex-minister brings 10 reasons to say “no” to the constitutional reform.

Oskanian is sure that there were many reasons for the constitutional referendum of 2005, as it was necessary to bring the Basic Law in line with Armenia’s commitments to the Council of Europe. Besides, dual citizenship – a vital issue for the Armenian people - was established then. The Constitutional amendments also reduced the president’s powers and increased the ones of the government and parliament. 

“Today’s hybrid Constitution is the optimal one for the country in case of its proper application and fair elections. It contains elements of parliamentarism and can help promote democracy and economic development of Armenia, on the one hand, and provides for wide powers to the president and guarantees adequate response to external challenges, on the other hand,” Oskanian writes.

The ex-minister believes that the current political situation in the country is not favorable for amending the Constitution. There is no necessary level of consolidation for reforms. Political parties in Armenia have not become powerful enough to be the key and only backbone of the government system.

In addition, Oskanian says, the ruling party – the only initiator of the Constitutional Reform – lacks legitimacy, which casts shadow on the entire process of the reform. People do not trust in the election system. Whatever the outcome, the voting result will be called into question. “Obviously, everything is done to help a specific force, a specific person, retain his grip on power,” the politician writes.

What they present as a draft Constitution, Oskanian writes, is full of contradictions and risks – an absolute evil of the political system where the guarantee of stable majority becomes a Constitutional standard. The draft makes it possible to change the Constitution by the 2/3 of the votes in the parliament, fails to define clearly the position of the Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief.

The parliamentarian is sure that Armenia is the only post-Soviet country to try to shift to such kind of a parliamentary system of government. Georgia has a hybrid system of government close to the one we have in Armenia now. Turkey has a hybrid system too. The president is elected by a nation-wide voting there.

“An obscure, shaky political system, where the first person in the country is the president having no powers and not elected by the people and the prime minister has executive powers but fully depends on his party and the party leader, will preclude an effective and efficient foreign policy,” Oskanian says.

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