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Letter to the NA President
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RA NA President Galust Sahakyan’s Speech during the Discussions on RA Draft Constitutional Amendments
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Dear colleagues,

It is already several months the general theme for the discussion of political forces and society are the Constitutional Amendments. It is natural that the process would have been accompanied with lively debates, as it is on the legal basics of the country’s and society’s development.

The Constitutional Amendments are not a vital necessity either for the authorities, or the ruling political force, or any particular party, or organization. They are rather vital necessity from the state’s, society’s and political forces’ perspective, and it doesn’t refer to mere tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, just as some political figures or permanent clients of press clubs often insist, falling into the trap of populism and misleading the society.

Any of us shouldn’t confuse state’s higher basic law, the Constitution, with the constitution of his own, because today we are all are considered to be the state: those sitting here, the protestors of Azatutyun Square, and the soldiers defending the border, the peasants never leaving their private land even under enemy bullets. In brief, the power belongs to people, according to the Constitution. Consequently, neither the Constitution, nor the submitted amendments are anyone’s property, nor are they for anyone or against anyone.

The Constitutional Amendments don’t oppose to any political force’s living condition, but they are aimed at strengthening political viability. And the political field is comprised of both government and opposition forces. This Draft is meant to become a document inciting the political forces not to conflict, but rather to solidarity and cooperation, rather compiling viewpoints, than contradicting them, as only in the conditions of united and tolerant society it is possible to consolidate the power and ensure the state’s sustainable progress towards development. Stemming from this, the specialized Commission on Constitutional Amendments considers the proposals submitted by political forces and figures, and NGOs, irrespective of the political position and party affiliation of the author. Taking the advantage, I would like to express my gratitude to those parties, organizations, individuals and groups, which somehow participate in the debates of the constitutional amendments, let me repeat, somehow, as the discussion supposes also negative response and viewpoint, rejection and criticism.

In this regard, to some extent it is understandable the position of those organizations against the Constitution which strive to shape a movement under a certain name. This also fits into the opportunities, ideology of the submitted amendments and in general, into the framework of constitutional freedoms and democracy, as the very Constitution documents that all of us shall have the right to freely express our opinion. Let me say that we are also for the “No” idea. Yes, we say No to populism, we say no to those who waste the civil society’s potential by unreasonable and anachronistic actions. We say No to the tactics of playing on people’s feelings by some political forces, individuals, missing and from time to time reviving political figures, and to the political engagement performance for the sake of prolonging the political existence. But we say Yes the civil society activity, the tactics of sincerely being concerned about the country’s destiny, any activity within the framework of the Constitution.

Dear colleagues,

One of the renowned French political figures of the 17th century, Cardinal Richelieu, once quoted, “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him”. Surely, any document is not perfect to the end. The fact that the Draft Constitutional Amendments has been put to public consideration and everyone has the right and an opportunity to express his/her opinion on it, submit a proposal, witnesses that the authorities are interested to have a maximum acceptable and perfectly drafted document equipped with the society’s suggestions.

The Constitution in this case, the Draft Constitutional Amendments, is not a play, which is possible to stage according to the director’s discretion and taste. It is the most serious and the most important document for its citizens, which all of us, in particular, political figures and especially parliamentary force should treat with the greatest soberness, realizing their responsibility towards country’s future, assuming the minimum of his share of moral duties. If any political force or figure sees this document as a performance and conditions his complaints and criticism, not assigning him a key role in it, than our people is ingenious enough to credit that political force and figure with appropriate treatment during the elections.

Dear colleagues,

I would like that our society and especially political forces observe the Constitutional amendments as an important and necessary process, which is aimed at sustainable democracy establishment in the country and building of such a state, which is based on human rights and freedoms protection, proper separation and balance of power, ensuring modern social guarantees for the society, formation of legal bases for the political and economic sustainable development, as well as other all-human values.

The life is changeable and we can’t allow us falling behind the rhythm of time, but we can’t also show unnecessary haste in such vital issues, such as, for example, the core changes of political and electoral systems. Always realizing the responsibility assumed before people, the authorities has always been and are guided now by leading the country without shocks. I would like to remind that years ago when political various forces surely insist that it is necessary to pass on to 100 % proportional electoral system at once and cut the majoritarian electoral system, no one could precisely imagine the peculiarities of such a transformation and those difficulties which might have generated in the future. We took another direction, gradually reducing the number of majoritarian seats, at the same time we improved and précised the legal bases of parties activities, we established 100% proportional system for the elections of Council of Elders of Yerevan, which has a great role in imagining the new system and its installation process, essentially improved the Electoral Code and etc. I mean this, highlighting the necessity of observing constitutional amendments as a process, as being in it, we often see the full and objective image which has already been shaped in the past period and outlined in the future. And having the picture of the country’s whole development process, many unwillingly concentrate on the opportunities given by the Constitutional Amendments at this moment.

The opportunities of the Constitution at the current moment, seeking in them separate political forces’ and even individual’s interests. The Constitutional Amendments pursue very precise and concrete goals: to continue the shaping of sustainable democratic system and effective governance structure based on separation of power and balance in Armenia, as well as to provide constitutional bases for transforming into parliamentary system. The submitted amendments stem from this general purpose, as well as include all the resolutions of issues which revealed after constitutional amendments 2005.

Was it necessary to initiate constitutional amendments in this period or not? Especially among political forces and individuals against Constitutional Amendments the opinion that the Armenian Constitution doesn’t impede the implementation of reforms in the country, struggle against monopoly and etc is common. Of course, it doesn’t interfere, how can the country’s Constitution impede or even restrict any good initiative. This is an obvious truth. But is it allowed to that simplify the global process of Constitutional reforms and with this elementary perception unwillingly push people to uncertainty and misunderstanding? The majority of people in our nation, who are more or less literate and have a wide outlook, realize that these Constitutional amendments solve rather future’s problems, not those of today. They understand that these amendments are necessary to ensure Armenia’s dynamic development and to shape respective state government system. And for moving in that direction the Constitution doesn’t give all the required opportunities: in the condition of the current governance system the required proportion is not provided for the President’s authorities and functions, the President’s functions are not précised enough in the sphere of executive power implementation and preservation of Constitution. The system of the executive power is not precise; there is an uncertainty between the functional role, authorities and responsibilities. There is an internal reciprocity of the executive power conditioned by the Armenian President’s and Government’s functional authorities, as a result of which the government with its complete and complex responsibilities doesn’t implement functions typical to the executive power. On the other hand, the National Assembly lacks all the mechanisms of the real oversight over the executive power. In the conditions of absolute majority of the Republic’s President’s political support in the National Assembly and the absence of inner-parliamentary balances the danger of the political monopoly etc increase. Therefore, I believe that we make the Constitutional Amendments right in time, specifying beforehand our positions in the sphere of foreign policy, taking into consideration the geo-political interests and possibilities of Armenia, as well as using the world rich experience of the constitutional developments.

Dear colleagues,

In the context of the Constitutional Amendments I highlight very much the parliamentary system of government and passing to 100% proportional electoral system which will not only extend the formats and volumes of the collegial government of our state, but also greatly promote the rise of the parties’ role in Armenia. With these amendments we create possibilities for the parties to take part in the state government, have impact on the decisions under adoption and implement their programmes. We considerably extend the authorities and possibilities of the opposition parties represented in the National Assembly, particularly having Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, establishing Investigative Committees by force of law, moderating them and even by the demand of one-quarter of that Committee’s members requiring and getting necessary information concerning the sphere of authority having an essential impact during the adoption of the constitutional laws, proposing a draft law to the National Assembly by the order of the civil initiative, while making appointments in state key posts and from other viewpoints.

The transformation into the parliamentary enhances the role of the National Assembly in terms of solving all essential issues of the country together with the government. The parliament will have all the necessary mechanisms of the real control over the formation of the government and its activities, which in our opinion, will provide more decent level of efficiency of the state government. The problems, which are characteristic to the semi-presidential system of government will find their solution, in particular, the President of the Republic will have an opportunity to fully assume all the functions characteristic to a non-partisan President. His main mission will become the observation of preservation of the Constitution, the use of checks and balances, the assumption of the mediator’s role. The Prime Minister will be appointed as a result of parliamentary elections, and the government will be responsible before the National Assembly. A united executive power will be established and the danger of confrontation between the parliament and the President of the Republic will almost be excluded.

Dear deputies,

We are convinced that the submitted version of the form of government and trasformation into the parliamentary system of government can greatly promote the strengthening of the constitutionality in the Republic of Armenia and the improvement of the system of separation and balance of power. We are also sure that these amendments will also objectively result in the improvement of the structure of Armenia’s political whole system, the consolidation of political forces, extention of the parties and the essential reduction of the volumes of populism, as the principle “we don’t have power, we also don’t have responsibility” cannot be in force anymore, and the parties and civil movements not presented even in the parliament will have certain elements of power. As a result all of us will benefit and first of all our people, by obtaining higher level of sustainable democracy, hence, I urge to actively take part in the revision of the Draft Constitutional Amendments and holding of the referendum.

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