Constitutional Court Overturns Pension Reform

Constitutional Court chairman Gagik Harutiunian reads the court ruling


YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—In a surprise verdict, Armenia’s Constitutional Court overturned on Wednesday a controversial reform of the national pension system that has triggered angry street protests by young workers affected by it.

Ruling on a joint appeal lodged by leading Armenian opposition parties, the court said that the key provisions of a corresponding government-drafted law that took effect in January are unconstitutional.

One of them requires Armenians born after 1973 to contribute 5 percent of their gross wages to one of two private funds authorized by the government and the Central Bank to manage their retirement savings. Many of those workers have fiercely opposed this measure, saying that they lack trust in those funds and do not want to lose a considerable share of their income.

A pressure group representing them as well as the four opposition parties represented in the Armenian parliament say that the monthly contributions mandated by the reform amount to a breach of citizens’ property rights guaranteed by the constitution. The government has dismissed such claims.

The ruling read out by the Constitutional Court chairman, Gagik Harutiunian, gave the government and the parliament until September 30 to scrap this and other provisions declared unconstitutional and bring the pension law into conformity with Armenian law.

Artsvik Minasian, a lawmaker from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation who has represented the parliamentary opposition at the court hearings on the issue, described this specific order as somewhat ambiguous, saying that it “could create some problems” for reform opponents. Still, he insisted that the court essentially met all opposition demands.

“The bottom line is that our arguments about contradictions with constitutional norms were accepted. I want to thank the high court for doing that,” Minasian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

The government was quick to react to the verdict with a statement posted on its website. “The government will press ahead with this radical reform aimed at improving the people’s well-being within the framework of proper constitutional formulations,” said the statement. It added that the government will adopt a “plan of further actions” after receiving and looking into the full text of the Constitutional Court ruling.

Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan acknowledged “shortcomings” in the pension reform and offered to embark on a dialogue with its opponents on March 20, one week before the court opened hearings on the opposition appeal.

Wednesday’s ruling marked a rare case of the Armenian Constitutional Court striking down a major government measure. It came amid growing cooperation among the four opposition parties. The latter agreed on Tuesday to jointly stage demonstrations in Yerevan on April 28-30 in support of a vote of no confidence in Sarkisian’s cabinet put forward by them in the National Assembly.

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6 Comments

  1. Armenian said:

    Wow! Job well done; nice to see some sort of independence coming from the judiciary. This law was riddled with questionable support from so many angles, and I’m glad to see it [hopefully] done away with.

    • Sarkis said:

      Gee, you mean the country you called a “laughing stock” and the black PR against the Armenian state that western-based, English-language propaganda outlets pretending to be “independent media have been reporting all of these years are a lie? What a surprise.

      You should know though that the pension reform plan was a US and EU project, not a Russian one. Tigran Sarkissyan is affiliated with the American-controlled World Bank and IMF.

      • Armenian said:

        I don’t care if he’s supported by the West or by Russia; he was crap and needed to go. People like him aren’t doing Armenia any favors, and unlike you, I don’t excuse the behaviors and attitudes of people who are implementing negative changes in Armenia based on who their “alliance” is towards. Maybe you should start doing the same.

        • Sarkis said:

          Again you are making up lies. Who have I ever made an excuse for? I merely call for exposing and punishing the western agents who are working to destroy Armenia. The likes of ara manoogian and richard giragosian. Frankly your ability to look at a simple court decision and see a Russian conspiracy makes me concerned for your health.

  2. Armenian said:

    I hope this small victory for civil society and particularly the young Armenians who participated so wholeheartedly in protesting against this law are compelled to demand even more from their government in the future. Hopefully this will turn into an avalanche and remove all of the corrupt, backward and idiot policymakers who will literally do everything just to win favor in the eyes of the Kremlin. A democratic Armenia is a strong Armenia.

    • T.K. said:

      is there a comment you make that has no Russia, Putin or Kremlin in the text? Your hate for Russia is very dangerous. get a hold of yourself. You may consider joining bandera offsprings at UNA/UNCA. Just be aware those fought with us in Karabagh. and you may find yourself on the wrong side and at the mercy of our soldiers.
      Now as to the subject, i am also glad that CC did it’s job and made sure our constitution and rights of our citizens are protected. It is a big victory for a TRUE democracy in Armenia.
      and BTW the pension plan was supported and pushed by USA and EU missions in Armenia not Kremlin.

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