Hayrikian to Stay On in Constitutional Commission

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Paruyr Hayrikian has dropped threats to resign as head of the presidential commission on constitutional reform after President Robert Kocharian addressed his concerns over prospects of dual citizenship in Armenia–Hayrikian’s party said on Monday. Senior members of the Self-Determination Union said Kocharian last week told the commission–which has refused to propose introducing dual citizenship–to soften its stance and leave the door open for the idea.

A pledge to grant ethnic Armenia’s from around the world the right to become Armenian nationals implicitly figured in Kocharian’s campaign agenda during last year’s presidential election. The idea is supported by many parties–including Hayrikian’s Self-Determination Union–a major Kocharian ally. However–the commission on February 19 voted down the inclusion of dual citizenship in a package of constitutional amendmen’s to be submitted to parliament later this year. That rejection was initiated by one of the commission’s most influential members–Chief Military Prosecutor Gagik Jahangirian. He argued that the provision would enable many Armenia’s to dodge compulsory military service.

According to Nerses Zeynalvandian–a SDU lawmaker–Kocharian said the commission should take a compromise decision and simply propose the abolition of a constitutional clause banning dual citizenship. "With great difficulties we have managed to push the dual citizenship issue through the commission on constitutional reform," Zeynalvandian told a news conference.

The ad hoc commission–dominated by top state bureaucrats–was formed last year–supposedly to deliver on Kocharian’s promises of constitutional reform. Its recommendations are to be endorsed by the president before they are discussed by parliament.

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