YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The chairman of Armenia’s Constitutional Court defended on Thursday his participation in President Serzh Sarkisian recent intercontinental trip aimed at explaining his conciliatory policy on Turkey to major Armenian communities abroad.
Speaking to RFE/RL, Gagik Harutiunian insisted that it will not compromise his impartiality in the planned court hearings on the recently signed Turkish-Armenian agreements’ conformity with Armenia’s constitution.
“This is just an opinion. I don’t attach importance to it,” he said of claims to the contrary made by opponents of the agreements.
A small group of them gathered outside the Constitutional Court building on Thursday to condemn Harutiunian for accompanying Sarkisian on his recent “pan-Armenian” tour of France, the United States, Russia and Lebanon. They, as well as other critics, say the court chairman violated an Armenian law that bans judges from engaging in political activities.
“Claims that the chairman of the Constitutional Court has engaged in politics are the result of some people’s rich imagination,” countered Harutiunian. “There was nothing political there.” He claimed that Sarkisian discussed with Diaspora Armenians “issues of pan-national significance,” rather than the Turkish-Armenian protocols signed in Zurich on October 10.
Harutiunian also said that he was on vacation during the trip and accompanied the president in his capacity as deputy chairman of the All-Armenian Fund Hayastan, a mostly Diaspora-funded charity.
Harutiunian could not say when Armenia’s top court will consider the protocols, saying that their legality should first be certified by the Foreign Ministry and the presidential administration. “As far as I know, they should complete those phases before it becomes clear when [the protocols] will be submitted to us,” he said.
Under Armenian law, international agreements signed by the government need to be endorsed by the Constitutional Court before they can be ratified by parliament. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation and other nationalist parties opposed to the Turkish-Armenian pact say that some of its provisions are unconstitutional.