Kocharian Makes Constitutional Amendment Suggestions

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The presidential committee for constitutional amendmen’s met for the first time last week.

Opening the meeting–President Kocharian said–"We are embarking on a very important project for the establishment of democracy and the strengthening of human rights in the country." Confirming the need for changes in the constitution–the president stressed that the objective is not to adopt a new constitution–but to amend the current one. He said that the current constitution has obvious mistakes–contradictions as well as some editorial mistakes–which impede its use.

"The constitutional amendmen’s should first of all seek to create balanced relations between different branches of power," Kocharian stressed. President-government and president-parliament relations should be specified and simplified as much as possible–he added. Kocharian found it inadmissible that the constitution gran’s the president the right to dissolve the parliament after consulting the speaker and the prime minister. Kocharian said that stipulations should be placed on that right and that a system of counterbalance to presidential power should be introduced.

Kocharian added that relations between the executive and judicial branches also need to be specified. Stressing that a considerable interdependence exists between the two branches of power today–Kocharian said–"The most important task is to secure the independence of the judicial branch and protect it from possible influence from the executive branch."

The president also said that issues related to human rights deserve special attention. "The state should guarantee the people free expression of will," Kocharian stressed.

Measures regulating the Constitutional Court’s activities also need to be added–said Kocharian–adding that the issue of citizens’ right to apply to the Constitutional Court should be solved.

Stating his wish for the ban on dual citizenship to be removed–the president suggested formulating a law on dual citizenship.

He said that local authorities were also in need of serious reforms.

Kocharian said that the activities of the committee for constitutional amendmen’s should be liberal in their approach and hold multilateral discussions. "We are launching a serious program which has been extensively discussed. We have the opportunity today to begin constructive action–and it is very important that this process should be thoroughly completed."

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