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PM Pashinyan chairs the meeting of Anti-corruption Policy Council


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A meeting of the Anti-corruption Policy Council was held in the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

The agenda included the issue of imposing restrictions on holding other public positions by a member of the Council of Elders.

At the beginning of the session, the Prime Minister stated in his speech. "The Corruption Prevention Commission informed public servants who are members of the Council of Elders that they can no longer combine the status of a public servant and a member of the Council of Elders. We have had several discussions on this topic. There are different interpretations, positions, views on how we should deal with this issue." According to Nikol Pashinyan, the format of the Anti-corruption Policy Council is the most suitable for reaching a complete and final conclusion on this issue.

Gnel Sanosyan, Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures, Karen Karapetyan, Deputy Minister of Justice, Mariam Galstyan, acting Chairperson of the Corruption Prevention Commission, made reports on the issue.

First, it was reported on the legal regulations of field of incompatibility between public officials and public servants. The regulations are defined by the laws "On Public Service", "Local Self-Government Bodies" and "On Local Self-Government in the City of Yerevan". It was noted that from the analysis of the presented regulations it follows that the current norms of the law clearly establish a prohibition for officials and public servants to occupy a position not determined by their status in state bodies or local government bodies. Legislative norms of 2022 established an exception for members of the council of elders. As a result, it turns out that in each specific case, legal relations should be considered from two sides, since for the same legal relations there is the law “On Civil Service” on the one hand and the laws “On Local Self-Government Bodies” and “On Local Self-Government in the City of Yerevan” from the other. That is, a member of the council of elders, guided by the law on local self-government, can hold any position in any ministry, but at the same time, while holding an official position in any ministry, one must comply with the restrictions imposed on him in accordance with the law “On Civil Service”, which also prohibits him from holding any position, including in local government bodies. Thus, after the 2022 amendments, the issue of uniform interpretation, certainty and application of laws has emerged, and the Corruption Prevention Commission has already identified situations and cases of conflict of interest and risks of undermining the principle of separation of powers.

In connection with this issue, the Prime Minister stated: "My purely political understanding is that the more people involved in governance, the better for democracy." The Head of the Government emphasized that he is inclined to the view that the members of the council of elders should not be public servants. According to Nikol Pashinyan, the monopolization of power is a bad thing, and if the same persons are both a public servant and a member of the Council of Elders, then inclusiveness is not ensured. "Instead of going the way of increasing the representation, we are going the way of decreasing the representation. And at the time when we ratified the charter, I was a member of parliament at that time and I voted for the ratification of the charter, and my perception was that we should go this way," added the Head of the Government.

The Council members presented their comments and recommendations. It was emphasized that the purpose of defining incompatibility requirements is to prevent conflicts of interest and provide checks and balances for the separation of powers. The Council members agreed that the examination of the three existing laws governing the incompatibility requirements for members of the council of elders shows that they cannot be interpreted and applied uniformly. As for the 2022 amendments, their purpose was to establish special regulations for a member of the council of elders of a community, taking into account the fact that this is an unpaid position, but did not take into account the existing general structures of incompatibility requirements under the Law on Public Service.

In the framework of ensuring inclusiveness, Nikol Pashinyan also noted. "The business that complains today mostly complains about local self-government bodies. If business representatives want us to solve any issue, let them be members of the council of elders and solve those issues on the spot." According to the Head of the Government, if the issues are solved in a bad way, there should also be rules of ethics, within the framework of these rules of ethics it can be examined and understood whether the member of the council acted in accordance with ethical correctness or not.

As a result of extensive discussions, the members of the Anti-corruption Policy Council came to a common position that it is necessary to adopt a law, to clearly define the rules of incompatibility, leaving no room for misinterpretations, establishing that currently the members of the council who have found themselves in a situation of incompatibility, conditionally speaking, are granted amnesty, all the upcoming elections held from now on will be held with an absolute ban on public and civil servants and public office holders.

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