March 23, 2018
Today, President Serzh Sargsyan visited the Constitutional Court where he attended the ceremony of naming the Constitutional Court’s Session Hall after outstanding representatives of Armenian jurisprudence Shahamir and Hakob Shahamiryans.
Prior accompanied by incumbent Constitutional Court President Hrayr Tovmasyan and former CC President, Supreme Judicial Council Chairman Gagik Harutyunyan, the President of Armenia visited the Constitutional Court’s library, which is named after Gagik Harutyunyan and boasts rich legal, scientific, journalistic materials and professional manuals, intended not only for CC members and staff, but also for legal experts and students. The CC President noted that he was going to digitize the library and make it more accessible to the users thanks to new technologies.
During the ceremony of naming the CC Session Hall after Shamir and Hakob Shahamiryans, the President of Armenia congratulated those present on the event and wished the incumbent and former Presidents of the Constitutional Court every success in their most important and responsible mission aimed at enhancing the quality of justice in Armenia.
The moment is really quite symbolic, first of all, in terms of the ongoing fundamental transformations in Armenia. Now, there is a rich study material for the future historians. And I hope their overall assessment will be positive. In turn, we should do our best to make it a reality.
Armenian legal thought has gone a long way to development. 200 years ago, Shahamir and Hakob Shahamiryans came up with innovative ideas and spoke about the importance of public institutions - the institutions that today serve as a basis for modern democracies.
I do believe that the moment when this hall is being named after the renowned Armenian legal thinkers will continue to be symbolic for the decision-makers, and, of course, very important for the people who will ever enter the hall.
I congratulate all of us for this good initiative. We appreciate the work done, and this is a very important circumstance. Taking the opportunity, I would like to thank Gagik Harutyunyan for his valuable contribution and congratulate him on the 70th anniversary of his birth.
In our times it is not easy to find a person who is hard-working and dedicated. Gagik Harutyunyan has always been where it was difficult and challenging. And he has always been consistent in dealing with different problems.
I think this was the main reason why the Supreme Judicial Council chose him as president of this important body. Thank you very much, Mr. Harutyunyan. I do not want to hold long speeches, because you will continue to hold the office in another important position, which is very unique in our country.
Together with your partners you must be able to secure the independence of judges and courts, and for that you should be the first to be independent. Otherwise, if you are not independent you will hardly be able to secure the independence of others.
Therefore, good words may be regarded as another circumstance and not an rewarding of success.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Hrayr Tovmasyan on his election as President of the Constitutional Court. Mr. Tovmasyan, I wish you every success and good luck as you are taking over this extremely important steering wheel from Mr. Harutyunyan’s skillful hands. It puts a heavy burden on your shoulders.
Indeed, Hrair Tovmasyan is not a new person in our legal community. He is one of the authors of our constitutional reform. The concept of “architectural control” is used in construction. In this case, I think, Hrayr Tovmasyan will exercise this “architectural control” with thoughtfulness and care. As much as I know Hrayr Tovmasyan, the supremacy of the Constitution is a matter of principle and belief. I would like it to be continuous.
As I have said many times, we have a problem of improving the quality of public management. Its solution is not a problem for one person or a separate structure It is our task – those who have decided to participate in the difficult, but honorable work of state building.
We have the problem of public perception, the problem of correct transmission and presentation of our work to the public. There is still much to do here. I am convinced that the Constitutional Court, as well as the newly established Supreme Council will do their best to raise the quality of justice in Armenia and, not less important, to raise the level of public perception.
I wish all of us good luck and a good start,” said President Serzh Sargsyan in his welcoming speech.
Hrayr Tovmasyan, President of the Constitutional Court thanked the President and all those present for attending the event and noted that complying with his colleagues’ advice, he made up his mind to start his activity in the Constitutional Court with a symbolic action, and finally he decided in favor of this emblematic event.
“Published as early as in 1783, “Trap of Vanity” by Shahamir and Hakob Shahamiryans was the first draft of a constitution in the world, written a few years earlier than the constitution of the United States, Poland and France appeared. It was also a program of Armenian national liberation movement and its theoretical justification.
It is noteworthy that as a matter of fact, “Trap of Vanity” substantiates the idea of parliamentary form of government, and it is symbolic that 230 years later we chose the path indicated by our compatriots that has become the basis for a democratic system in many countries. In just a few days we will switch over to the parliamentary system of governance.
The “Vorogayt Parats” is a precept to build the rule of law, and respect the supremacy of Constitution; in modern constitutional terms, it is the pledge for national progress, freedom and happiness.
Distinguished Mr. President,
Today’s gathering has another rationale, and it is difficult for me to say whether it is more or less important than the first one. Today, we named one of the halls of the Constitutional Court after the first President of the Constitutional Court, famous statesman Gagik Harutyunyan. Of course, this is a small piece of appreciation for Gagik Harutyunyan’s legacy, but at the same time, it has another meaning as it is a message to all future generations that the path to building statehood and ensuring constitutionalism to be embarked upon by the Constitutional Court as an institution and the State system in general, goes through appreciation, acknowledgement and continuity.
It was very important for me to start my job with this initiative symbolizing the continuity that we have to ensure for the Constitutional Court that used to be headed by Mr. Harutyunyan,” Constitutional Court Chairman Hrayr Tovmasyan said. Noting that today’s event comes on Gagik Harutyunyan’s last day in office, he handed over a small and symbolic souvenir to Gagik Harutyunyan on this occasion.
“It was difficult to choose a souvenir, which could symbolize the significance and Mr. Harutyunyan’s personality. And what has been chosen, Mr. Harutyunyan, in essence, is my idea instrumented by the hands of a sculptor, which symbolizes Gagik Harutyunyan’s motto, who is not simply standing on the Mother Earth but has ingrown in it, with the seeds in his hands, and the seeds symbolize a notable, professional, hardworking person, who loves his homeland; a person who creates a new system. Mr. Harutyunyan, I would like to pass this to you as a sign of gratitude and appreciation,” concluded Hrayr Tovmasyan.
The former President of the Constitutional Court, Supreme Judicial Council Chairman Gagik Harutyunyan expressed his thanks for the appreciation and praise and underlined that for him Shahamir and Hakob Shahamiryans are of a special significance in Armenian history.
“Many years ago, when we started publishing “Trap of Vanity” in modern Armenian, it was very difficult to find the portraits of Shahamir and Hakob Shahamiryans and “Trap of Vanity” itself is mostly based on archival materials. Our society, especially, the law society ascertained that “Trap of Vanity” was not created out of nothing and it became the summary of our people’s certain historical thinking.
I would like to inform that with the support of the Catholicos of All Armenians, we have initiated the publication of a two-volume collection, called “Constitutional culture in the pages of the ancient history of the nation first adopted Christianity as a state religion.” It is nearly three thousand pages and will be published at the end of this year. The book will be published in English next year, so that the worldwide readers could read and acknowledge it. The study will reveal the entire historical chain - from the Aratta Kingdom to the Shahamirians and thereafter. The book will be summed up in a summary article titled “Lessons of history and the motto of time.”
The only thing I can say is that success can be expected only where there is continuity, when a rock is placed on the other rock and drops of water grow into a lake or a river and is capable to ensure quality. I would recommend to all my colleagues and Constitutional Court members to take into consideration the following: what we have done so far is preparatory work.
You may remember that by 2005, we had examined the constitutionality of only ten laws over the past ten years, while today we are examining as many within just two months. Ten years and two months. However, the new constitutional amendments open completely new perspectives.
Tomorrow, the next day, from 9th April, when the new law comes into effect, new applicants may appear at the Constitutional Court and the workload and responsibility shall increase. I am convinced that the initial conditions we have been able to create will provide us with the opportunity to live up to such high responsibility.
Our task is the following: a lot has been done in terms of constitutional amendments, many have been communicating with the colleagues outside of the country, you have had meetings, and presentations at the conferences, and we have seen that there is no country today where when speaking of constitutional developments process achieved in Armenia is not praised. But everything may remain on the paper, if it is not implemented in real life. It ought not to be the situation when we have a constitution, but the constitutionality is incompatible and non-harmonic with it. We must really be able to implement the Constitution into life.
Mr. Tovmasyan, I have known you for a very long time and have witnessed your establishment. I cherish great hopes, I have great confidence that first of all, the internal atmosphere of friendship and partnership will help solve the problem of collaborative work, leading to even greater achievements. You know that I am with you; I will always be your supporter. We will do our best not only for the Constitutional Court, but also for the judicial system in the country.
The situation is that - yes, there is a dynamics, steps are made, but as an established system, we must start from the basics and be able to implement what we wanted during the constitutional reforms, which was initiated by the President of the Republic. It depends on each of us, and all our colleagues.
I am confident that our collaborative work will enable us to ensure quality and to say what we did and were doing in reality, that we were right, and with the suggestion or initiative that the President of the Republic made and implemented this constitutional model or this mechanism into life, is viable and can lead to many positive changes in the country. I wish you happiness and fruitful work. Together, we shall try to tackle the problems that are longing for the solution and should be solved the soonest possible,” said Gagik Harutyunyan.
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