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Bicameral parliament: are Armenia and Diaspora ready for this move?

There are apprehensions that involvement of Diaspora representatives in the parliament may cause new contradictions and a split among Diaspora Armenians.

Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobyan’s recent statement that Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan plans legislative changes to involve Diaspora representatives in the Armenian parliament caused hot debates, dividing the Armenian public into supporters and opponents of the idea.

PanARMENIAN.Net - “The Republic of Armenia plans to amend its constitution in order to create a new legislative upper house - a Senate - that would include representatives from the Diaspora,” Minister Hakobyan said in Los Angeles January 30.

The statement was followed by discussions about the true reasons for such a move and its advisability. Certainly, no political force in Armenia can openly oppose strengthening of ties with Diaspora. However, engagement of Diaspora in domestic political processes aroused indignation of a part of Armenia’s population, specifically opposition.

According to oppositionists, the idea suggests President Sargsyan’s intention to regain prestige, which was badly damaged after signature of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols.

Opposition insists that people living in other countries can’t impose their rule on Armenia.

“The idea is risky. Formation of bicameral parliament in Armenia will require lengthy public consultations, discussions and professional studies, amendments to the country’s constitution being a serious step,” Heritage party member Larisa Alaverdyan said.

According to ARF Dashnaktsutyun representative Armen Rustamyan, it’s important to create a format allowing Diaspora’s participation in resolving issues crucial to the whole Armenian nation. “However, focusing on a single option should be avoided,” he said, advising flexible approach to the idea. “It’s important that the idea should not be discredited,” Rustamyan said.

Editor-in-chief of Azg paper, chairman of Armenakan-Ramkavar Azatakan party Hagop Avedikian said that the idea of a unified legislative body binding Diaspora Armenians was voiced back in 1970s.

Diaspora Armenians welcome the idea on the whole. “Armenia is the homeland of all Armenians. We welcome the idea although it’s unclear what the mission of the structure will be and what political forces of Diaspora will be represented in it,” an Armenian entrepreneur from Sweden, Vahan Chanoian said.

For his part, head of Hovnanian International, Vahakn Hovnanian hailed the idea as a strategy aimed to preserve the Armenian identity. “Armenians of Diaspora could share their experience and best traditions,” he said.

Assessing the idea of closer cooperation between Armenia and Diaspora, it’s worth noting that the Armenian population is not ready to integrate Diaspora representatives in the governing bodies. The fact is that people living abroad will have difficulties to understand the essence of political processes in Armenia. Thus, there are apprehensions that involvement of Diaspora representatives in the parliament may cause new contradictions and a split among Diaspora Armenians.

Hayk Khalatyan / PanARMENIAN News
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