Friday, June 24, 2005

PACE ‘Deeply Concerned’ About Armenian Constitutional Reform

While we talk about building a democracy in Armenia and whether the US should intervene, we generally forget more important questions relating to the same issue. That is, Armenia’s international obligations as a voluntary signatory to various treaties and conventions as well as membership of various international organizations. With this in mind, the Council of Europe have passed the resolution on constitutional ammendments that I blogged about yesterday.

“The Assembly is deeply concerned that the delay in agreeing and adopting the constitutional amendments is holding back Armenia’s progress towards European democratic norms and standards in key areas of political life,” reads the resolution.

PACE specifically urged Kocharian and his ruling coalition to comply with the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission that would give more powers to the Armenian parliament, strengthen judicial independence and make the mayor of Yerevan an elected official.

Interestingly, the same concerns that the CE has expressed with regards to the draft constitutional ammendments drawn up by the government are shared by the opposition. Indeed, the CE noted such a fact , something that raises serious questions about the government’s refusal to consider these three issues when the opposition said it would become part of the process if they did.

Finally, we have a serious matter through which we can assess the democratic credentials of the government and its willingness to meet its international obligations let alone its duty to its own citizens. I think this will determine future attitudes towards the process of reform in Armenia and whether, when push comes to shove, the government is truly democratic or whether it is simply playing games.

The full report by RFE/RL can be read online here.

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