Hello and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong, In this Conversations on Groong episode, we’ll be talking about the constitutionality of the Nov. 9 agreement signed as a ceasefire to end the second war in Artsakh. We’ll also discuss constitutional protections for checks and balances in the government of Armenia, and the case against former presidents, from a high level.
This episode was recorded on Tuesday, January 12, 2021.
Since Nikol Pashinyan came to power in 2018, and prior to the Artsakh war of 2020, issues around the Armenian constitution and constitutional court have been in the center of public attention. These issues have been partly fueled by one of the most prominent legal cases in recent Armenian history, the March 1 trial against Armenian president Robert Kocharyan and military leadership at the time. Today, we’ll have a conversation on issues surrounding the March 1 case as well as legal and specifically constitutional questions related to the Nov. 9 ceasefire declaration and subsequent events.
To talk about these issues, we are joined by:
Aram Vardevanyan, who is the author of over 20 scholarly articles in the field of Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Criminal Procedural Law. He is a PhD in Law and is a member of the Chamber of Advocates of Armenia. He’s founder and director of JP law firm and from 2011-2018 he was in state service at the Ombudsman’s office and the Constitutional Court. Vardevanyan is a member of Robert Kocharyan’s legal team.
About Robert Kocharyan’s criminal case: What is the case about, its current status?
● On the charge of overthrow of constitutional order: why this claim isn’t valid?
● On the 2nd charge of corruption.
Ever since the signing of the cease fire declaration of November 9, the Armenian opposition, religious leadership, and large segments of society have been critical of the action.
For the past two months since, despite Prime Minister Pashinyan’s denials, Armenian and Azerbaijani military teams have been negotiating and meeting in a process of demarcating and delineating the international borders between the two countries. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the two countries have never recognized their borders. Although the November 9 Agreement did not say anything about recognizing international borders, it appears that some unwritten agreements are committing the Prime Minister to this process.
Some have claimed that Pashinyan’s signing of the ceasefire as well as subsequent actions, such as the border demarcation/delineation process are illegal. Is the authority to change borders vested in a single person, or does the parliament also have to agree to it?
Ever since Nov. 9, the calls for Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation have grown. Is a vote of no-confidence in the national assembly the only way to remove an acting prime minister? What about a hypothetical scenario where the PM is under criminal investigation? Is the PM’s immunity absolute? Does the precedent for exceptions to constitutional immunity in the Robert Kocharyan case also have implications for actively serving heads of government?
There are currently an unspecified number of Armenian prisoners of war being held in Baku. The Armenian government so far has not been successful in releasing them, despite this being one of the points in the Nov. 9 declaration. Meanwhile, the Armenian government is not releasing information to the media exactly how many prisoners we have in Baku, claiming this is a state secret. What is your opinion on this? What legal principles and rights are at play here?
Not sure if you’ve had a chance to talk to Robert Kocharyan about this, but what is his level of interest and plans on entering politics again.
That concludes this Conversations On Groong episode. We hope it was helpful in your understanding of some of the issues involved. We look forward to your feedback, including your suggestions for Conversation topics in the future. Contact us on our website, at groong.org, or on our Facebook Page “ANN - Groong”, or in our Facebook Group “Groong - Armenian News Network”.
Special thanks to Laura Osborn for providing the music for our podcast. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channels, Like our pages and follow us on social media. Thank you for listening and we’ll talk to you soon.
Robert Kocharyan, Nikol Pashinyan, Aram Vardevanyan, Armenia, Constitutional Court, Azerbaijan, POW, War, Corruption.