The article devoted to the Diaspora has been modified in the constitutional amendments

The developments that have taken place during the years of independence are evidence of the fact that the amendments made to the Constitution in 1995 and in 2005 were able to ensure peace and stability in Armenia at even the most dangerous and the most unpredictable moments.

This leads to the following question: Why was there a need to amend the Constitution and conduct a referendum? As reports “Armenpress”, a correspondent of the “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” Daily addressed RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan with the request to comment on this.

“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun”: Dear Mrs. Hakobyan, why is there a need to make constitutional reforms in exactly this period of development of our country?

Hranush Hakobyan: Life is moving forward, social relations are changing and developing. There are dangerous “mines” that have remained after the amendments made in 2005, and they are standing in the way of our country’s advancement. In all the presidential elections (except for the 1991 elections), the society has been split into two, leading to a serious confrontation between the winning and losing teams. The person who wins in the presidential elections with only a 23% difference in the number of votes obtains great powers, while the person with a large electorate goes home empty-handed. The society splits into two, and it takes quite a while to set the society back on the right track again. One of the golden rules of democracy is to establish control over officials and a government formed through elections. However, this can be overturned with the existing Constitution. Let me bring up an example. With the current Constitution, the presidential institution can become uncontrollable. The only case when it will be possible to impeach the President is for state treason or the committal of any heavy crime, which is practically impossible since there is no President who can commit state treason. In case of making the transition to parliamentary governance, the President is elected by the parliament, and the main powers of the President are granted to the Prime Minister, who becomes the official with a major role. However, unlike this model of governance, in case of the new system of governance that is being proposed, the Prime Minister can be overseen and will be directly accountable to the parliament. In case of approval of these reforms, any failure will become a topic for discussion in parliament and may help raise the issue of expressing lack of confidence in the Prime Minister, the government or a minister. So, this model of governance provides the opportunity to rule out uncontrollability, impunity, as well as irresponsibility for politics and the Constitution. I would also like to talk about another possible discrepancy that may lead to a constitutional crisis. In the existing system of governance, if the parliament and the President are from the same team, then it’s obvious that there can’t be any discrepancy between these two institutions. However, there might be a situation where the President of the republic and the parliamentary majority represent different political forces and go against each other. In this case, there might be a situation where the parliament, including the government formed thereby decides not to secure the constitutional powers of the President. For instance, the President, as the Commander-in-Chief, demands mobilizing state resources for the country’s defense, but at that moment, the government doesn’t find it appropriate to solve that issue in accordance with the President’s assignment, creating a situation that the government can’t get out of and even putting the country’s defense at risk.

It is also clear that by being on opposite sides, the President can’t dismiss the Prime Minister (the person enjoying the trust of the parliamentary majority is appointed Prime Minister) may not disband the parliament, and the parliament may not express lack of confidence in the President since he or she is elected by the people, etc. The list of such crises goes on.

All such cases, the norms that can lead to labyrinths have been taken into consideration in the reforms and new mechanisms have been proposed, and if the transition to a parliamentary system of governance is made, then these discrepancies will be ruled out. The people elect a National Assembly and demand regular social development. If the people say “yes” to these reforms, it will mean that in the future, they will only elect a legislature, that is, a parliament that will be elected under the proportional order and will have wide powers for control. By electing the Prime Minister and the head of state, the parliament holds the government liable for the solution to all issues related to the country’s foreign and domestic affairs, which leads to the elimination of the bipolarity (in the existing Constitution, the President and the government are equally responsible). The system of governance proposed in the draft reforms envisages mechanisms between the parliament and the government that won’t lead to a conflict or confrontation. In case of unsatisfactory work, the parliament that pays heed to the people’s complaints may express lack of confidence in the government, relieve itself of any impotent Prime Minister who is not accepted by the people and thus the government. One of the major advantages of this document and one of the major approaches contributing to the deepening of democracy is that wide rights are reserved for the parliamentary opposition, the office of deputy parliamentary speaker is granted to the parliamentary opposition, and the parliamentary majority won’t be able to make many pivotal decisions without cooperation with the opposition. Another important fact is that one of the best ways of establishing stability within the country and avoiding political confrontations is to have the parliament elect the President of the Republic. The President must be non-partisan and must play the role of an impartial arbiter between the government and the parliament, following protection of the Constitution in the country.

“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun”: Mrs. Hakobyan, as Minister of Diaspora, what is your opinion of the norms relating to the Diaspora?

H. H.: With the existing Constitution, the Diaspora and the relations between Armenia and the Diaspora have become a constitutional norm, the result of which is the existence of the RA Ministry of Diaspora. the article devoted to the Diaspora has been modified in the constitutional amendments, enshrining that Armenia carries out a policy for the development and strengthening of multilateral relations with the Diaspora and a policy aimed at preserving the Armenian identity that will promote repatriation. In this article, the government has an important duty, and that is to contribute to the preservation of the Armenian language and historical and cultural assets in foreign states, as well as to the development of Armenian culture and education. By adopting key principles of democratization, we aspire to enhance democratic institutions, as well as broaden and deepen the power of the people in order to build a stronger and more protected Armenia.

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