ArmInfo. In an interview with ArmInfo, head of the parliamentary faction of the Bright Armenia Party Edmon Marukyan, commented on the recent domestic political impulses and problems of reforming the judicial and legal system in Armenia. He talks about the steps taken by Yerevan to deepen cooperation with the European Union and the United States. He shares his own vision of the current state and future of the Armenian-American relations.
- Mr. Marukyan, judging by the latest statements of the authorities, the problem of reforming the judicial and legal system that has been pressing for a long time, has finally reached the Constitutional Court, or more precisely, its chairman, Hrayr Tovmasyan. Does, in your opinion, his resignation indicate at least the beginning of the path towards solution of the situation, or is everything much more complicated?
I don't think that the problem of reforming the judicial system, about which you speak, can be resolved only by Tovmasyan's resignation. It is clear that the chairman of the Constitutional Court is trying in every way to defend himself against accusations. At the same time, the accusations of the authorities and part of our society against Tovmasyan are quite reasonable and justified. This man wrote the Constitution with the ultimate goal of turning the Constitutional Court into a future mechanism of fulfilling the wishes of the then ruling Republican Party of Armenia. It is also clear that, defending from fair accusations in his address, Tovmasyan, first of all, relies on well- known democratic principles. He refers to the well-known principles of the dominance of democracy and law, to the fact that the independence of the judiciary in fact does not envisage mandatory reforms after each change of legislative and, accordingly, executive power. However, to leave everything as it is means to bear with the hideous distortion of the Constitution and the judicial system as a whole that took place during the years of RPA rule. In this light, changes and reforms in the judicial system, in my opinion, are necessary. However, they should be carried out within the framework of the law, whenever possible adhering to the happy medium. The problem certainly needs a solution.
- In your opinion is there this time the threat of transforming the judiciary into an appendage of the new executive? The results of the elections to the Supreme Judicial Council, at first sight, indicate the appearance of prerequisites in this direction:
I am convinced that under no circumstances should the representatives of the judiciary be "friends" with the authorities of the country. Such a friendship, moreover, rather close one, for quite understandable reasons, existed between the Republicans and the judges appointed by them. We all see today the result of such relations between representatives of different branches of power. Accordingly, today and in the future, it is necessary to completely exclude even the first signs of such a "friendship" of the courts with the ruling force in Armenia. Reoccurrence of such a situation is definitely unacceptable. Courts should not be friends of power: neither the previous one, nor the current one, nor future. Our country needs an independent judicial power, a real judicial power, and not just judges and courts, a power that will be completely independent and, accordingly, free in all its decisions and actions. I mean the power that is able to independently implement both constitutional justice and justice in general. This is our main task, the task of the authorities, the opposition, society and even, paradoxically, at first glance, the former government. Since actually everybody is interested in its implementation. Accordingly, to achieve a solution to this common task, we all need to act in a coordinated manner.
-However, there is no such approach to reforming the judicial system yet:
Unfortunately! That is why we reiterate every day the need to formulate a clear concept of reforms in the judicial legal system. Today, the authorities say one thing, then the other and no one knows what they will say tomorrow. It is because of the inconsistency of the authority, the lack of a common vision of what we want and where we are going, that the Republicans, "counter-revolutionaries", "blacks", and others actively criticize this very authority. It is precisely as a result of this very inconsistency that the same Tovmasyan, who was a "good guy" a month ago, because he was standing next to the authorities, suddenly became "bad". It has become impossible to continue such practice, any reforms need consistency, it is simply unrealistic to continue them in the conditions of daily change of sentiments.
- Nevertheless, at first glance, not everything is so bad, at least with finances. The European Union, in particular, has already expressed its readiness to support Armenian reforms in the legal and judicial system.
Finances are not the main factor in the successful implementation of these reforms, moreover their successful completion. Practically all international partners of our country are ready to render this assistance, and not only financial one. For this, one thing is necessary - the vision, the concept of these reforms expressed by the Armenian authorities. Finance here is of secondary importance. The presence of the agenda is paramount, or precisely speaking, its absence. It is inadmissible to announce the universal vetting today, giving it up tomorrow. We can't talk today about the implementation of the transitional justice system, and refuse from it tomorrow. It is inadmissible to make changes to the Constitution today and refuse from them later. Any reforms always need stability. And it is the general concept, the documented clear vision of future own actions that is the key to the development of cooperation of Armenia in all areas. And the matter is far from being limited to the legal and judicial system.
- You have recently returned from the US. Do the new authorities of Armenia have a conceptual approach in relations with the USA? Their predecessors did not seem to have it. What do we want from the United States today, and what can we offer them?
I have no information about the approaches and agenda of our leadership towards the United States. I don't know what discussions are held during the periodic visits of representatives of our leadership to Washington. I have my own conceptual ideas about the agenda of the Armenian-American relations, according to which Armenia can become an important partner of the United States in the South Caucasus. The prerequisites and most importantly, possibilities for such a scenario exist, they just need to be implemented, this is what our national interests require. Unused potential in Armenian-American relations should be fulfilled. And I very much hope that our new ambassador in Washington will make all possible efforts in this direction. We should not limit our relations with the United States to the Armenian community, although we do not realize this potential either. Today's Armenia is a democratic country, which, in cooperation with the United States, is able to actively fight in the international structures against the challenges faced by democracy. This is very important and we should concentrate our own attention to this issue and draw the attention of our partners to it. From this point of view, it is rather difficult to overestimate the importance of Armenia in the South Caucasus. As far as I understand, today there is simply no such link in the Caucasian dimension of American politics.
- What about Georgia? It seems that the "Georgian Dream" of EU and NATO membership has not changed with the replacement of Saakashvili with Ivanishvili.
Georgia continues to be a strategic partner of the United States, at least, the Georgians think so. However, at the same time, Georgia is involved in conflicts with Russia. And most importantly, it does not have a border with Iran, which Armenia has. For obvious reasons, in recent years, our region has been interesting to the United States, above all, due to the border with Iran. There is also Azerbaijan, which borders on Iran and is of particular importance for the United States. However, here US also faces problems. A dictatorial regime is ruling in Baku, respectively, democracy is fictitious, especially in comparison with Armenia, which can not be blamed for absence of democracy today.
- Back to your meetings in the USA. Which of the above-mentioned, we can offer Americans at least at the level of parliamentary diplomacy?
As a representative of parliamentary diplomacy, a person involved in these processes, I am doing everything possible to implement the agenda of Bright Armenia party. We call this agenda "More America in Armenia" and actively push it. At all our meetings, in this case, the latest meetings in Washington, we are actively lobbying for the idea of involving the US in all possible ways and their participation in the reforms taking place in Armenia. At all meetings in Washington, I voiced our ideas and offered to fill the vacuum in relations between our countries that we inherited from the Republicans. Today we can definitely get more America in Armenia than it was yesterday. Accordingly, we need to continue the cooperation with the United States, which was established with Armenia's independence, and bring it to a much higher level. We consider this a necessary step proceeding from the interests of Armenia.
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