In parallel with the events surrounding the Constitutional Court in post-revolutionary Armenia, the name of the Venice Commission, a group of experts on the Constitutional Law of the Council of Europe, has begun to be more actively discussed in the political and legal discourse.
Gianni Buquicchio is one of the persons actively involved in the solution of the crisis in the Constitutional Court, who regularly talks with high-ranking government officials, as well as with the member of the Constitutional Court Hrayr Tovmasyan. According to his official biography, Buquicchio, who is Italian, has been working in the Council of Europe since 1971, and since 2009 he has been the chairman of the Venice Commission, having been re-elected to that position four times, in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017.
Buquicchio and the political events in Armenia
Presenting the 2019 report of the Venice Commission to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on June 17, Buquicchio stated that oligarchic regimes in Armenia and Moldova have collapsed. “We support these two countries in their efforts to build democratic systems,” he said.
On June 22, the Venice Commission gave a positive opinion on three legal questions addressed to them by the Ministry of Justice regarding the resolution of the constitutional crisis. The commission noted that the authorities did not deviate from the standards of the constitutional court of the European model and did not change them, stating that the shorter terms of office of the President of the Constitutional Court were acceptable. The Venice Commission also stressed that Hrayr Tovmasyan will chair for another 17 years, which is a long term and may lead to a predominant role of the President of the Constitutional Court.
At the same time, on June 26, Gianni Buquicchio’s reply letter to CC member Hrayr Tovmasyan was published on the Facebook page of the Constitutional Court.
Buquicchio wrote that he was closely following developments concerning the constitutional amendments. “I regret that they are not in line with the clear recommendations of the Venice Commission. I cannot but recall the need to respect the Constitution,” he said.
Buquicchio’s award from Armenia
Interestingly, Buquicchio had received an award from the oligarchic regime, as he described it. In October 2009, by Serzh Sargsyan’s decree, he was awarded the Order of Honor from NA Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan. At that time, he described Armenia not as an oligarchic state, but as a democratic one. “Today Armenia is a democratic state. Certainly, there are some difficulties; it cannot be without difficulties. The greatest gift for me is the progress we have made together in establishing democracy in Armenia,” Buquicchio said.
Hovik Abrahamyan noted that the positions are temporary, but Buquicchio did a great job in establishing democracy in European countries.
The Venice Commission spoke positively about the constitutional amendments in Armenia in 2005-2015. After the 2005 constitutional referendum, Buquicchio expressed regret that the referendum had not gone as well as he would have liked, but “constitutional amendments have brought Armenia closer to Europe.” Ten years later, the Venice Commission was positive about the draft constitutional amendments initiated by Serzh Sargsyan. Buquicchio stated that the new constitution is a step forward and that there is political consolidation around it.