YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — President Serge Sargisian has pointedly declined to deny one of his ministers’ claims that he would like to found a second house of Armenia’s parliament where representatives of the worldwide Armenian Diaspora would be able to hold seats.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Hranush Hakobian made the announcement at a meeting with Americans of Armenian descent in California. She reportedly said Sargisian believes that “certain changes within the governing structure of Armenia are needed to allow Diaspora Armenians to be part of Armenia’s government.”
The Los Angeles-based Armenian daily Asbarez quoted her saying Monday that this would take the form of constitutional amendments leading to the establishment of an upper chamber of parliament. Hakobian did not clarify just how its diaspora members would be elected and whether they would have to be Armenian citizens.
Sargisian’s press secretary, Armen Arzumanian, did not deny this, saying that the president asked prominent Diaspora Armenians to propose ways of boosting Armenia-Diaspora ties at a meeting in Yerevan last May. “This is one of the possible proposals that deserves consideration along with many others,” Arzumanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service in a written statement sent later on Monday.
Arzumanian did not specify who is the author of that proposal. He stressed instead that Armenia’s constitution could be amended only under “a complex and long procedure.” “Naturally, there would have to be public discussions and detailed professional studies for making such a decision,” added the presidential spokesman.
“It’s a proposal that deserves attention,” Eduard Sharmazanov, the spokesman for Sargisian’s Republican Party, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Tuesday. “It once again reaffirms the fact that President Sargisian is the leader of not only the Republic of Armenia but also all Armenians. He is doing everything to ensure that Armenia-Diaspora ties are at a high level.”