YEREVAN, February 7. /ARKA/. PACE monitors have called on Armenian authorities to request a Venice Commission opinion on proposed constitutional changes.
“The Armenian Parliament decided to hold an extraordinary session on 6 February in order to discuss a series of amendments that would remove the requirement for the Constitutional Court to check the compliance of draft legislation with the Constitution of Armenia. Among other things, this would change the procedure of revision of the Constitution itself. In addition, a constitutional amendment that seems to aim at ending the terms of several members of the current Constitutional Court with immediate effect has been tabled,” said the co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for the monitoring of Armenia, Andrej Šircelj (Slovenia, EPP/CD) and Kimmo Kiljunen (Finland, SOC).
‘These two topics are important, and the proposed changes could have long-term repercussions on the functioning of constitutional institutions. In this context, as well as taking into account some of the questions raised in that respect, we call on the Armenian authorities to request as soon as possible, the opinion of the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s expert body on constitutional law. We believe that this opinion, which could be adopted very quickly via an urgent procedure, would be valuable to all stakeholders, including the Armenian electorate if a referendum were to be held.”
The bill proposes to amend Article 213 of the Constitution, which in its current version states that “the chairman and members of the Constitutional Court, appointed before the entry into force of Chapter 7 of the Constitution, continue to remain in office until the expiration of their term of office established by the Constitution as amended in 2005.”
The draft law proposes to amend this part as follows: “Before the entry into force of the 7th chapter of the Constitution, the powers of the chairman and members of the Constitutional Court shall cease.”
The author of the bill, MP from the My Step faction Vahagn Hovakimyan, presenting the draft, said that the ruling faction would vote against the proposed bill in the first reading, and, according to article 202 of the Constitution, will propose that a general referendum be held on the bill.