Armenia Marks Constitution Day

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Armenia marked the 13th anniversary of its constitution on Saturday. “Constitution Day” celebrates the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia in a nationwide referendum on July 5, 1995.

The constitution, which was amended by referendum on November 27, 2005, formally established Armenia as a democratic, sovereign, and independent unitary republic.

According to the constitution, power is vested in Armenia’s citizens, who exercise it directly through the election of government representatives.

According to a written statement by President Serzh Sarkisian, the Constitution has played a significant role in Armenia’s development and in the establishment and reinforcement of its democracy.

“[The constitution] has been, and remains to be an impetus and guide for development,” the statement says. “Today our country and all of us have new challenges to resist, which is possible only under the conditions of respect for the Constitution and laws.”

According to Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, the historical significance of the 1995 referendum cannot be ignored. The adoption of the constitution was pivotal for the newly independent republic, which had just come out of a major conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The constitution provided Armenia with an opportunity to develop its statehood and prepare a firm bases for building a new state and legal system, said Sargsyan’s statement.

The “high values” written in the constitution, his statement said, “should oblige us to work constantly toward their preservation and reinforcement.” The Republic of Armenia’should be the guarantor of social justice and ensure everyone’s equality before the law.

The preamble to the constitution states that the “Armenian People, recognizing as a basis the fundamental principles of Armenian statehood and the national aspirations” have fulfilled “the sacred message of its freedom-loving ancestors for the restoration of a sovereign state. It goes on to say that the Republic of Armenia, committed to the strengthening and prosperity of the fatherland, declares “faithfulness to universal values,” in order to ensure the freedom, general well being and civic harmony of future generations.

Armenia’s constitution was amended through referendum in November 27, 2005. Shortly after its adoption in 1995, Armenia experienced its first major electoral crisis when former President and current opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan declared martial law and used tanks to violently put down tens of thousands of demonstrators protesting his violation of the presidential election in 1996.

Armenia has not yet seen a truly democratic election. The recent Presidential elections in 2008, which gave Serzh Sarkisian the country’s top position, were also marred by accusations of electoral fraud. The political crisis came to a head on March 1, as peaceful protests turned violent and a state of Emergency was declared by then President Robert Kocharian.

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