“The entire process is illegitimate given the absence of public demand for any change” – Moushegh Shoushanyan

Mushegh2No Pasaran talks to attorney Moushegh Shoushanyan

What issues in the constitutional change process concern you the most?

The constitution is a document for which there must be a public demand in order to make changes to it. In our case, this demand is totally absent.

Furthermore, I must point out that these changes are so comprehensive that the process is not one of constitutional change but of changing the document itself.

We all know that the problems facing Armenia are not a result of the constitution – the constitutional order or system of government. On the contrary, I believe that the fundamental reason for these problems is that our constitution is just a piece of paper. It has never been ‘brought to life’.

There are clauses in the first and second paragraphs of the constitution, regarding the bases of constitutional order and fundamental human rights and freedoms that are merely declarative in nature. In practice, real guarantees for their implementation have never been realized. It isn’t a question that the constitution we have now is bad but that it has never been brought to life. The group that has seized power in Armenia has seen to this.

Article 50 of the constitution banned the same individual from running for president three times in a row. That’s why the person now in that post launched these changes in the first place.

The sole aim and reason for these changes is that this person remains in power even after the 2018 election. It is not important how he is preparing to do so.

The constitutional change referendum does not allow citizens to express their opinions on individual sections of the draft. They have to support or oppose the entire text. Is this restriction a violation of their freedom of expression?

Of course it is. The extent of the changes is such that if citizens wanted to study the document in detail and then vote yes or no, such a decision would be difficult since they cannot vote on individual clauses.

My opinion is that such changes are unacceptable for an overwhelming portion of society since they see no need for them at this stage. They understand that the problems they face lie elsewhere. Many have expressed the view that the entire process is illegitimate given the absence of public demand for any change.

How do you evaluate the fact that Gagik Haroutyunyan, President of the Constitutional Court, also heads the committee that drafted the changes to the constitution?

To put it mildly, the entire situation doesn’t make sense. If true constitutional order was established in Armenia such a process would lead to severe consequences.