EU Body Chair Urges Armenia to ‘Respect Constitution’

Gianni Buquicchio is the chairman of the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe's advisory body on legal affairs
Gianni Buquicchio is the chairman of the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe's advisory body on legal affairs

Gianni Buquicchio is the chairman of the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body on legal affairs

The president of the Venice Commission on Friday expressed regret that Armenian authorities actions to amend the country’s Constitution were not in line with the body’s recommendations and called for “the need to respect the Constitution.”

Gianni Buquicchio, the president of the European Commission for Democracy through Law, known as the Venice Commission, expressed his “regret” in a letter addressed to Hrayr Tovmasyan, now the outgoing chairman of Armenia’s Constitutional Court.

On Monday, the Armenian Parliament passed constitutional amendments that effectively cut short Tovmasyan’s chairmanship of Armenia’s highest court and mandated that two other judges serving on the court retire because, according to the measure, their tenure had exceeded the term limits envisioned in the constitution.

The amendments were approved only by the members of the ruling My Step faction, since the other two parties represented in parliament, the Prosperous Armenia Party and the Bright Armenia Party boycotted the vote because they opposed what they called the Prime Minister’s efforts to take over the country’s judiciary.

Prime Minister Pashinyan and his My Step party had sought to change the composition of the court, arguing that Tovmasyan’s and the other two judges tenure was illegal, thus scheduling a referendum, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead they opted to resolve the matter through the legislature, after Armenia’s justice minister submitted the proposals for review to the Venice Commission, which detailed its recommendations in a 20-page response to the ministry.

“I have been following closely the developments in Armenia concerning the constitutional amendments. I regret that they are not in line with the clear recommendations of the Venice Commission,” said Buquicchio. “I cannot but recall the need to respect the Constitution. This is a basic requirement of the principle of he rule of law.”

Armenia’s Constitution stipulates that any amendments to the document must be reviewed and approved by the country’s highest court, a sentiment echoed by the Venice Commission.

Justice Minister Rustam Badasyan argued on Monday that presenting the amendments that impacted members of the Constitutional Court to the country’s highest judicial body would present a conflict of interest. Thus, despite strong opposition in parliament, the ruling party opted to vote on the amendments in parliament.

President Armen Sarkissian signed the measure, effectively beginning the process of changing the composition of the Constitutional Court.

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6 Comments

  1. Norin said:

    Laws that have been put in place by lawless animals like Republican and Prosperous party to institutionalize their political reign should not be considered laws nor do they need to be followed.

    Good work PM Pashinyan, in 2 years he has pulled off more to benefit Armenia’s future through reform than Diasporan organization have achieved in the past 20.

  2. Vahe said:

    President Armen Sarkissian was reclused from signing, the law iwent into effect by midnight by the decision of the parliament.

  3. Hye said:

    and I urge EU to urge Turkey to accept the Armenian Genocide and give our land back

  4. Zareh Sahakian said:

    The real change towards democracy now entrenched…and now all that Mr. Gianni Buquicchio is advising is to respect the constitution. In other words, do not fight the changes…even if they are not in line with the Venice Commission. That’s how I read it, it would be a healthy process for our much-tortured Armenia. The remnants of the criminal old regime must leave.

  5. Satenik said:

    Armenians are sick and tired of Europe’s diktat! Mind your own business Europe, you have loads of problems on your hand and Armenia has her own. Let each country sort out their own problems. Stop criticising Armenia at every turn!?

  6. Raffi said:

    Bunch of BS artists, ask Turkey to respect human and civil rights,

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