In its 2007 presidential campaign platform, the Republican Party stated that it would establish a legal government by implementing the constitutional amendments and judicial reforms accepted in 2005.
However, in the presidential elections that followed and the days after, such glaring human rights violation occurred the like of which Armenia had never seen before.
Today, the European Court of Human Rights is overturning the verdicts of “reformed” Armenian courts with such ease to reveal the bankruptcy of the Armenian justice system.
The 2005 Constitutional reforms were supposed to have perfected the balancing mechanism among the three branches of the government, by drastically decreasing the powers of the presidency in favour of the legislature and the government apparatus.
In fact, neither has the legislature nor the government been in such a dependent relationship with the presidency and the president than today. The Armenia that appears today, from the midst of all the documents, acts, accounts and laws, has never been this alienated from the real Armenia.
Again, for the third time in the history of independent Armenia, the authorities are trying to convince people that the problems of the country aren’t being resolved due to an imperfect Constitution and flawed legislation. The authorities are gradually trying to get the public used to the idea that the Constitution must be modified once again. It turns out that modifying the highest legal document in Armenia has become an accepted tradition.
No one would dispute that the Constitution needs to be improved. But there is no country in the world with a perfect constitution or legislative field, especially in today’s ever changing world.
But to make the indirect claim that the key to solving all our problems lies in the constitution or the law is simple chicanery. Does anyone believe for a minute that average citizens will no longer be murdered in the commercial establishment owned by oligarchs if we pool all our mental resources into drafting a perfect constitution? Will the economic monopolies in Armenia suddenly vanish or will small and medium business be allowed to operate freely. Will presidents, ministers, judges and prosecutors declare the actual millions in revenue they derive or will they continue to go through the motions when filling out their public financial notices? Will the so-called ethics oversight committees in the parliament and elsewhere actually investigate these numbers? Will suspicious deaths cease to occur in police stations and military bases? Will electoral corruption and manipulation of the voter rolls stop overnight? Will the National Statistical Service start to portray the real socio-economic state of the country or will it continue to paint a picture through rose-colored glasses?
Davit Harutyunyan, who chairs the Standing Committee on State and Legal Affairs in the National Assembly, doesn’t have the answer to all this nor can he.
These issues are a matter of a lack of will to apply the law and not linked to the quality of the law that exists. It’s a consequence of not respecting the very constitution that everyone refers to.
The legal experts of the authorities clearly realize this but they also know how to manipulate the public by turning the constitution into a sacrificial lamb and by yet again bringing a false agenda to the table and simply neutralizing the real agenda that has recently surfaced.
The only enlightened change that has occurred in the last five years was the creation of the preconditions of a civic consciousness created on the shoulders of the 2007-2008 pan-national movement. It has recently received new life around the issues of Teghout, the Pak Shouka and Mashtots Park.
Today, it is being invigorated by the people’s movement to fight against the immunity enjoyed by those responsible for the murder of Vahe Avetyan. This contingent has turned into a much more powerful and influential political factor than the political system itself and this is what worries the authorities.
It poses an even greater challenge to the regime than if all the opposition parties had joined their forces. It’s because this civic consciousness is directed by principles and values not up for compromise.
The coming clash is pregnant with a host of unpredictable consequences not only regarding the control of the processes but due to the widespread support of the public, which is even more dangerous because it is happening in the run-up to the presidential election.
The idea of new constitutional reforms is being publicly raised as an alternative to all this: It’s a false agenda and a classic method to misdirect public attention. And because the talk is about the Constitution and not the laws, the bet is that the bait will be swallowed by various political, civic, scientific and professional circles, giving way to extensive debates and discussions. As a result, the growing civic awareness in the country will be forced to the back-burner and the questions that have piled up will remain unanswered.
The only way to avoid this scenario is to not swallow the bait. The regime must be allowed to rot away in its solitude and in the imaginary paradise it has created, whilst the people continue their demands for the establishment of true law and order.
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