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Armenian News - NEWS.am presents a daily digest of Armenian-related top news as of 15.10.2019:

·       The large majority of proposals contained in a judicial reform package in Armenia are in line with European standards and contribute to combatting corruption without encroaching on the independence of the judiciary, Council of Europe legal experts of the Venice Commission concluded.

According to them, the Armenian government intended to introduce extraordinary vetting procedures to check the suitability of existing judges as well as an early retirement scheme proposed for Constitutional Court judges who were appointed for life under the pre-2015 version of the Constitution. 

The Venice Commission notes that it is important to respect the stability of a judicial office and that it is not acceptable if the composition of the Constitutional Court changes every time a new government comes to power. However, to the extent that the retirement remains truly voluntary and does not hinder the effective functioning of the Court, the proposed scheme is not objectionable from the standpoint of international standards, the experts conclude.

Venice Commission has also published the opinion on the constitutional implications of the ratification of the Istanbul Convention by Armenia. Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić said there is no controversy between the Convention and the Constitution of Armenia.

“That is very important for Armenia itself that can decide sovereignly to proceed on the ratification, but also is a good example for other countries that might face some fears domestically or misconceptions that have spread around the Convention,” she said.

·       A case of food poisoning has been recorded at School No. 5 of Artashat, Armenia.

Naira Harutyunyan, head of the Information and Public Relations Division of the Investigative Committee of Armenia, has informed that according to preliminary data, students were poisoned by the food being sold at the cafeteria of this school.

At present, 19 schoolchildren have been taken to hospital.

A criminal case has been launched into this incident.

The investigators are working at the scene and in the hospital.

·       The Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, on Tuesday, hosted his Georgian colleague, Giorgi Gakharia. The PMs of the two countries will have a private talk.

Gakharia has arrived in Armenia on an official visit at the invitation of Pashinyan and will meet with President Armen Sarkissian, and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II as well as will visit the Armenian Genocide Memorial to pay tribute to the victims of this tragedy.

·       Armenian PM also received Tuesday the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs Igor Popov (Russia), Andrew Schofer (US), Stéphane Visconti (France), as well as Personal Representative of the OSCE Chair-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk. The sides discussed issues related to the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and also touched upon the necessity of preparing the peoples for peace and the steps towards it.

Also, Nikol Pashinyan met with the Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan at the Armenian government.

·       The hearing on the criminal case involving Armenia’s second President Robert Kocharyan and several other former senior officials, and which had resumed Tuesday has adjourned.

Given that the trial could not proceed without the attendance of defendant Kocharyan and the fact that the court had earlier permitted another defendant, Seyran Ohanyan, to be absent from Armenia between October 21 and November 4, the next court hearing was set for November 5.

According to Kocharyan’s attorneys, they informed the court that their client was undergoing postoperative care, and therefore his attendance to these court hearings would not be possible for the next one to two weeks.

·       NATO has no direct role, but supports the work of the OSCE Minsk Group and the Co-Chairs to try to find a political solution to the Karabakh conflict, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during the 65th annual session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

“It is clear that there is no military solution to the conflict. NATO has no direct role, but what we do is to support the work of the OSCE Minsk Group and the Co-Chairs to try to find a political solution.”

·       Representatives of the Kurdish community of Armenia were staging a protest Tuesday outside the US Embassy in Yerevan, and against the ongoing Turkish military operations in northeastern Syria and condemning these Turkish attacks on Kurdish settlements, and they wish to draw the attention of the US authorities on Turkey’s “genocidal actions” in Syria.

·       Mr. Alan Gogbashian will no longer be taking up the role of Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Yerevan for operational reasons, the UK embassy in Armenia said on Facebook.

Mr. Gogbashian will be transferring to another Diplomatic Service appointment. Mr. David Moran has been appointed as Chargé d’Affaires with the rank of Ambassador in the interim until a new Ambassador is appointed.

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