YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Ignoring stern warnings from Russia, the Armenian government has formally asked the country’s parliament to ratify the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court.
The Armenian Constitutional Court gave the green light for parliamentary ratification of the treaty, also known as the Rome Statute, in March one week after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over war crimes allegedly committed by Russia in Ukraine. Moscow said shortly afterwards that Yerevan’s recognition of The Hague tribunal’s jurisdiction would have “extremely negative” consequences for Russian-Armenian relations.
Yury Vorobyov, a deputy speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, brought up the issue during a meeting of Armenian and Russian lawmakers held in the Siberian city of Irkutsk in July. He warned of “significant damage” to bilateral ties.
Vorobyov’s Armenian counterpart, Hakob Arshakyan, insisted during the meeting that Yerevan’s plans to submit to the ICC’s jurisdiction are “in no way directed against Russia” and are aimed instead at “preventing Azerbaijani attacks on the sovereign territory of Armenia.” Moscow was clearly unconvinced by similar assurances made by other Armenian officials earlier this year.
The government’s press office told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Friday that the Rome Statute has been submitted to the National Assembly for ratification. A spokesperson for parliament speaker Alen Simonyan confirmed the information.
The parliament committee on legal affairs has to discuss the treaty within a month. The document will then be debated by the full assembly controlled by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party.
Independent legal experts believe that recognition of the ICC’s jurisdiction would require the Armenian authorities to arrest Putin and extradite him to The Hague tribunal if he visits the South Caucasus country. Armenian opposition lawmakers have expressed serious concern over such a possibility, saying that it would ruin Armenia’s relationship with its key ally.
Russian-Armenian relations had already soured in the months leading up to the Constitutional Court’s March ruling due to what Pashinyan’s administration sees as a lack of Russian support for Armenia in the conflict with Azerbaijan.
Arshakyan said in Irkutsk that Armenian and Russian diplomats are holding “active discussions” on the matter. He expressed confidence that a “legal solution acceptable to Armenia and Russia” will be found.
It was not immediately clear whether Pashinyan’s government wants lawmakers to ratify the Rome Statute unconditionally or with reservations relating to Russia. The full text of the relevant decision sent to the parliament was due to be publicized later in the day.