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The Interview of the President of the NKR National Assembly Ashot Ghoulyan to the “Tert.am” News Agency
20 August 2016

1. Mr. Ghoulyan, a concept of constitutional amendments was released a few days ago. It envisages transition from the current semi-presidential government to presidential government, following a parliamentary government model. What is the reason for the amendments?

In making a final decision in favor of the government system, the professional commission on constitutional reforms considered not only the results of its debates and professional consultations, but also the opinions of political forces and public sentiments.

The concept-envisaged presidential government will prevent dual executive power: the president will assume political responsibility for the government’s activities, which is not the case under the current Constitution. The concept also enhances the Legislature’s role, with more efficient mechanisms of checks and balances will operate in the president-parliament relations. By and large, the proposed model is an explicitly presidential one. On the other hand, it does not rule out elements of semi-presidential and parliamentary government. This principle is applied in the context of Nagorno-Karabakh – the population, a small territory, political development, “undeclared war,” and so on.

2. Talking about a transition to parliamentary government inaugurated the negotiations. Is the four-day war the actual reason for the changes? The April events were followed by talks that parliamentary government would not ensure stability. That was a reason why a presidential model was preferred.

It is no secret that, at the initial stage of constitutional reforms, we were inclined to a parliamentary model identical to that in Armenia because the public and political systems of the two Armenian states cannot be significantly different. Of course, the April war modified our view of constitutional reforms, which, however, was not the only argument for a presidential model. A number of other arguments should be considered in amending the constitution – stability of the executive power, impossibility of applying the principle of sustainable parliamentary majority in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh (the number of MPs), a need for constitutional justice and, finally, the problems facing the country.

3. What benefits will the constitutional amendment bring to the Nagorno-Karabakh population? Do they guarantee Nagorno-Karabakh’s security?

Although the Republic of Artsakh has not yet been internally recognized, we cannot disregard the experience of constitutional reforms in the present-day world. It is also in the interest of our country in terms of its security and progress.

I understand public interest has been focused on the government model. However, the proposed constitutional reforms should be considered as a whole. Of no less importance are the amendments involving the expansion of legal status of citizens, greater independence of the judicial power, clear constitutional status for local government bodies and improvement of the institution of democracy.

4. Mr. Ghoulyan, don’t you think that according to the governance model presented in the concept, the republic will have a "super president" who in addition to holding the office of the President will also be the Prime Minister? Will this positively affect the development of political life in Karabakh?

The governance model presented in the concept has nothing to do with the situation described. The president, to who the parliament could express a vote of no confidence, cannot be considered a “super president”. The President and the Parliament will have the same democratic legitimacy, the right to terminate the powers of each other. This system will be incomparably stable and provide effective checks and balances than the current constitution.

In the proposed model, of course, the directly elected President will have unquestionable legitimacy, as well as the new parliament will have. The elections will take place the same day; the candidate can be nominated only by political parties participating in the elections. Presidential election candidate who came second, most likely, will be the second power in parliament. These principles will help to avoid deadlock situations and ensure the stability of political life.

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