The Specialized Commission on Constitutional Reforms presented the Constitutional Amendments bill at the National Assembly on Friday, September 4. The draft Constitution, the Commission claims, offers a number of advantages over the current Constitution.
Hrayr Tovmasyan, Head of NA staff and Commission member, in particular, stated that out of 28 European Union countries only Cyprus has a presidential system of government, while France, Romania and Portugal have semi-presidential system. The rest of EU members have a parliamentary government system, which is proposed by the draft Constitution.
Interestingly enough, the parliamentarian used the example of the European Union, despite the fact that Armenia gave up its plans to enter the EU in 2013 and joined the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union instead. Note, all of the EEU members – Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan – are governed by presidential systems.
In addition to the benefit of the transition to a parliamentary system, Tovmasyan said, the draft Constitution makes it possible to form a more independent judiciary system.
“The Constitution from 1995 was 'brilliant' in that the Council of Justice was formed by the president. Now, the Parliament will be involved in the election of Council members. The Prosecutor General will also be elected by 3/5 of the votes. Currently, only the Human Rights Defender is elected using this method. Despite criticism, it's undeniable that the Ombudsman does not act on the authorities' orders,” Tovmasyan stated.
Opposition Armenian National Congress MP and Armenia's former PM Hrant Bagratyan criticized Tovmasyan's statements and the draft Constitution: “You claim the current Constitution is 'person-centered', while the proposed one is 'people-centered'. The draft Constitution [has 48 provisions on human rights], 18 of which are limited [by the rules for the maintenance of public order], including the right to inviolability. How can you call this [draft] ‘people-centered’ when it violates 18 [human] rights, including [the right to property.] You say, a person's house can be taken away in place of a supposedly equivalent compensation. What's an equivalent compensation, we don't know.
“Second, you have, after all, kept the president and only changed the title to 'Head of State.' The only difference is that he is now elected by some 'Electoral College',” the oppositionist said.