In an interview with Aravot Daily on August 31, referring to the observation mission to be conducted by two Armenian NGOs during the local elections in Artsakh, Hero of Artsakh, former Secretary of the Security Council of the Republic of Artsakh Vitaly Balasanyan noted that “it is a direct interference with the sovereignty and constitution of Artsakh”.
Note that the Armenian government has allocated AMD 33.6 million to the Union of Informed Citizens NGO and Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center to conduct an observation mission during local elections in Artsakh to be held on September 8.
Vitaly Balasanyan qualifies the grant provided by the Armenian government to the observation mission as “interference with the sovereignty and constitution of Artsakh.”
However, observation missions by Armenian organizations cannot be viewed as interference with the Constitution of Artsakh, as the Electoral Code of the Republic of Artsakh clearly states the right to carry out an observation mission.
Thus, Article 29, paragraph 1 (3) of the Code states that during the elections local and foreign non-governmental organizations whose statutory objectives include democracy and human rights issues and which do not support candidates or parties, party alliances shall have the right to conduct observation missions.
Both Union of Informed Citizens and Transparency International meet these standards, do not support any candidate, and the missions of the two organizations clearly indicate a commitment to enhancing democratic values. In addition, both organizations have experience in conducting observation missions in Armenia and in other countries. For example, the Union of Informed Citizens has also observed elections in Georgia and Sweden.
Besides, if we follow that logic, it will turn out that, for example, the observation mission by the international organizations (about 90 observers) in the NKR presidential elections in 2012 was again “interference with the sovereignty and the Constitution of the NKR”.
On financial support to Artsakh
Vitaly Balasanyan says in an interview that the AMD 150-160 billion that Artsakh receives from Armenia as an interstate loan is less than the customs duties on goods imported to Artsakh from third countries through Armenia. “Let them calculate customs duties on goods imported through Armenia from abroad, and they will see that the Republic of Artsakh receives even less,” the hero of Artsakh says.
According to the 2019 budget of the Republic of Armenia, the interstate loan provided to the Republic of Artsakh was not AMD 150-160 billion, as claimed by Balasanyan, but AMD 57.8 billion or about USD 120 million (51.4 billion in 2018).
Now let us make a simple calculation.
According to the National Statistical Service of the Republic of Artsakh, about $ 353 million worth of goods were imported to the Republic of Artsakh in 2018.According to the Customs Code of the Republic of Armenia, the customs duty on goods is 0-10%. Even if we assume that all the goods coming into the Artsakh Republic are imported from third countries and there is no Armenian product in the list of imported goods, it will result that Artsakh citizens paid maximum 10% of the $ 353 million import to the Armenian customs service last year, making it about $ 35 million. Even in case of such a rough calculation, we do not approximate to the amount that the Armenian government provides to Artsakh.
On seizing power
“These two organizations (Union of Informed Citizens NGO and Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center – Ed.) are among the tools of power seizure in Armenia,” Vitaly Balasanyan stated.
According to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia, seizing power means to seize the powers of the President of the Republic, the National Assembly, the Government or the Constitutional Court through the threat of violence or the use of violence, as well as in other ways not provided for in the Constitution (Article 300).
The political events in Armenia in April-May 2018 were free of violence or threat. Newly-elected Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigned on his own initiative, when key opposition leaders were in prison.
Thus, the Velvet Revolution cannot be called a “power seizure” and the aforementioned organizations “instruments of power seizure” even in legal terms.
“Both the parliament and the government of Armenia have been seized. The 2018 parliamentary elections were illegal,” Balasanyan said.
According to Article 92 of the RA Constitution, snap elections to the National Assembly shall be held in the cases provided for in Article 149 (3), and (3) and (4) of Article 151, after the dissolution of the National Assembly.
As you know, last year’s snap parliamentary elections took place after the National Assembly failed to elect the Prime Minister on October 24 and November 1, which resulted in the parliament being dissolved by virtue of law, after which new elections were called. These elections were described as unprecedented, “held in line with fundamental freedoms and enjoyed the trust of the general public” (OSCE / ODIHR).
Thus, the snap parliamentary elections held last year, as well as the elected parliament and government, have fully complied with the RA Constitution and cannot be considered not legitimate, as Vitaly Balasanyan states.
Nikol Pashinyan’s call against the courts was an overthrow of constitutional order
The Fact Investigation Platform has already addressed this issue, demonstrating that Nikol Pashinyan’s call to block the courts di not constitute an overthrow of constitutional order.
According to Article 300.1 of the Criminal Code, to overthrow the constitutional order means to virtually abolish any of the norms provided for in Articles 1 to 5 or Article 6 (1) of the Constitution, which did not occur on the day of the blocking the court entrances.
According to Vitaly Balasanyan, the decision of the Armenian government to finance the observation mission puts into question all the elections in Artsakh to date – presidential, parliamentary, local, as well as the constitutional referendum.
Following the 2012 presidential election in Artsakh, in which Balasanyan was defeated by incumbent President Bako Sahakyan, Balasanyan himself questioned the results of the election, claiming that “the incumbent president and his team were unable to secure fair elections.”