President of Venice Commission, Gianni Buquicchio hailed Armenia's new draft Constitution at the Yerevan-hosted international conference, dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Armenian Constitution. “The Armenian commission on constitutional reforms took into account many of the recommendations by the Venice Commission and submitted a draft document, which is more balanced than the first one, and corresponds to the international standards,” Buquicchio said. He stressed that the experience of both committees has been very valuable, with the dialogue leading to fruitful results. Presenting the main characteristics of the project, Buquicchio said it contains the whole modern catalog of fundamental rights and freedoms. Parliamentary system of government, he said, backs the rights of the opposition in Parliament, reinforces the legitimacy of the Constitutional Court and the independence of the most important government bodies, including the Central Election Commission, television, radio and the Chamber of Control. On August 21, President Serzh Sargsyan submitted the draft amendments to the Constitution to the National Assembly. The draft amendments had been developed by the Commission on Constitutional Reforms under Armenian President According to the draft Constitution, the President is elected for 7 years instead of the current 5 and can only serve one term. The President should be a permanent resident of Armenia during the previous 7 years, instead of the current 10. The amendments ban the President from affiliation with a political party. Article 125 of the draft Constitution sets the procedure of a presidential election. The President shall be elected by an assembly consisting of an equal number of Armenian parliament members and representatives of local government bodies, appointed by municipalities themselves. The Prime Minister will become the supreme commander-in-chief of the Armenian armed forces during the period of military operations. He is appointed by the President, who, in particular, confirms the candidate nominated by the political force that won the National Assembly elections. No more than 18 ministries can be formed. The European Commission for Democracy through Law (the Venice Commission) published on September 11 the second interim evaluation on the draft amendments to the Constitution of Armenia, promulgated by special commission on constitutional reforms under the country’s President. The commission’s preliminary assessment includes the edited version of the 89th article of the draft amendments, which deals with the transition to the proportional electoral system and the formation of a stable majority in parliament. Public debates on the draft Constitution were held until late July. The National Assembly approved the revised version of the new draft Constitution on October 5.