YEREVAN — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met on Friday with members of the high-level mission of the Council of Europe, headed by Christos Giakoumopoulos, Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law at the CoE.

The delegation’s visit follows up the agreement reached over phone on May 22 between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland regarding CoE’s assistance with the ongoing judicial and legal reforms in Armenia.

Highlighting the delegation’s visit, Nikol Pashinyan stressed the need for making joint efforts on the way to conducting the judicial system reform. The Prime Minister stressed that the implementation of fundamental changes in the judicial and legal spheres stands high on the Government’s agenda; they are supposed to guarantee the existence of a full-fledged independent judiciary in our country.

The Head of Government emphasized that as a result of the democratic elections held in Armenia, the Government and the Parliament of Armenia won the citizens’ full confidence and mandate.

“In political terms, a simple question arises, especially after the revolution: whom does the judiciary represent in the Republic of Armenia; who does this power come from, whose power is exercised in Armenia by the judiciary? I say this because the second and unchangeable article of the Constitution of Armenia states the following: In the Republic of Armenia, the power belongs to the people. The people shall exercise their power through free elections, referenda, as well as through state and local self-government bodies and officials provided for by the Constitution. In this series, the courts stand for the State bodies stipulated by the Constitution.

The problem is that by virtue of last year’s political developments, the Armenian courts do not enjoy the people’s trust, unlike the government and parliament. That is why courts’ rulings keep causing specific concerns in society; people simply do not trust the judicial system, and this can be a source of crisis,” Nikol Pashinyan said and went on to note that the time has come for the judiciary to earn the trust of our people. Nikol Pashinyan expressed confidence that in close cooperation with international partners, the Government will succeed in building a reliable judicial system.

Christos Giakoumopoulos reaffirmed the full support of the Council of Europe to Armenia’s judiciary reform agenda. He stressed that the CoE welcomes the steps taken by the Government of Armenia to implement radical reforms in the judicial-legal sphere and went on to note that they had arrived in Armenia to discuss further steps and actions of bilateral cooperation. Christos Giakoumopoulos added that the Council of Europe is ready to cooperate closely with the Armenian government in order to complete the reform process mediating the full expertise of the Council of Europe.

Highlighting the fact of Armenia’s membership in the Council of Europe, the Prime Minister suggested that the Council of Europe should be involved in the process of judiciary reforms instead of providing assistance.

Both sides noted that the fight against corruption and the reform of the judicial system should comply with the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, international standards and the obligations taken by Armenia as a member state of the Council of Europe.

The delegation comprised heads of key structures of the Council of Europe: GRECO Executive Secretary Gianluca Esposito, Secretary of the Venice Commission Thomas Markert, Head of the Department of Justice and Legal Cooperation of the CoE Secretariat for Human Rights Hanne Juncker, political consultant Maxim Longang.

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