Hello and welcome to the Armenian News Network, Groong. In this Conversations on Groong episode, we’ll be talking about the current government’s initiative to yet again change the Armenian constitution, we’ll discuss the Artsakh Parliament’s bill on Occupied Territories, and other topics.
This episode was recorded on Friday, February 18, 2022.
It seems like every Armenian administration has a desire to make constitutional amendments to fit the constitution to its political aims. The Pashinyan administration has now launched its second effort to change the constitution, and so a new commission has been selected by the ruling party, Civil Contract, to get the jobs done.
At the same time, only a few days ago the parliament of Artsakh Republic passed a new bill, well it is now a law, about its territories that are now occupied by Azerbaijan. The Artsakh government says this bill is a response to the Shushi Declaration that Turkey and Azerbaijan signed in June 2021.
To talk about these issues, we are joined by:
Edmon Marukyan, who is a lawyer by profession and the leader of the Bright Armenia party (Լուսավոր Հայաստան). He was a member of the fifth, sixth and seventh convocations of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia from 2012 till 2021. He’s also a member of the newly formed commission to amend the constitution.
In early 2021, as the Armenian elections were heating up, Nikol Pashinyan expressed his position that Armenia should revert back to a semi-presidential form of government. Since then, we saw the resignation of the president, who complained about lack of constitutional powers. Various political actors have weighed in on whether the parliamentary system currently in place is working for Armenia.
Recently, the Ministry of Justice has formed a new commission to amend the constitution, which is tasked with investigating the need for constitutional changes. Mr. Marukyan, you have been appointed as one of the members of this commission.
What requirements have been communicated to the Constitutional Commission members, by the Prime Minister, or by the Ministry of Justice, about what they want to achieve through this constitutional amendment? At a high level, what problems are they trying to solve?
● Do you have an opinion on whether the constitution should be changed?
● Do you agree with him? What should be changed?
There is wide concern in the Diaspora, as well as among the parliamentary opposition, that the constitution may be changed to accommodate demands by Turkey and Azerbaijan, such as dropping references to the Armenian Cause, or The Genocide, from the Armenian Declaration of Independence and also the Constitution.
● What do you think about these concerns?
● Can you unequivocally state that you wouldn’t support changing the preamble or break the link between the constitution and declaration of independence?
In the past week Artsakh’s parliament passed an important bill that it says is in response to the Shushi Declaration, and deals with a couple of important issues regarding its Occupied Territories: One has to do about restoring the territorial integrity of the Artsakh Republic; the second is about companies and their countries that do business in its occupied territories without the permission of the Artsakh government.
● What do you think about the new law?
● How can Armenia support Artsakh regain its territories?
● How can Armenia defend Artsakh given the current situation, and going forward?
You lead the Bright Armenia - Լուսավոր Հայաստան - party. In the June 2021 early parliamentary elections, Bright Armenia did not do well and didn’t get into the National Assembly.
● Can you explain the poor performance at the polls?
● How are you and the party preparing to overcome these issues and return to the parliament in the next elections?
● After the catastrophic loss in the 44-Day war and the capitulation statement, everyone has had their own “face the mirror” moment. What has been your process of self-reflection?
● How can Armenia come back from this disastrous moment in history? Do you think the right government is in place to do that?
Well, here is a topic that doesn’t need a long intro. Not anymore. Turkey and Armenia have appointed special representatives to conduct so-called Normalization discussions to reboot political relations, open borders, trade, etc.
Certainly, everyone we’ve talked to agrees that neighboring countries should talk to each other and find a modicum of coexistence.
● What are your expectations of this process? What does “Normalization” mean for you?
● What are the pitfalls and opportunities for Armenia?
● Is now the right time to engage in such a process, when Armenia is at its weakest since independence in 1991?
● Is this government the right government to conduct such a process?
That concludes this Conversations On Groong episode. As always, we invite your feedback, Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel on YouTube, Like our pages and follow us on Twitter. On behalf of everyone in this episode, we wish you a good week, thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you soon.
Edmon Marukyan, Bright Armenia Party, Լուսավոր Հայաստան, Armenia, Constitutional Reform, Constitutional Court, Nikol Pashinyan, Artsakh, Nagorno Karabakh, Occupied Territories, Azerbaijan, POW, War, Corruption, Serzh Sargsyan, Turkish Armenian Normalization, Borders, Parliament, National Assembly, Parliamentary System, Semi-Presidential System,