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04.10.2010

Nico Lange: A lot of open questions following the Constitutional Court Judgment

   

The Director of the Kyiv Office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Nico Lange gave the following interview to the Ukrainian Service of Deutsche Welle on the 30 September Judgment from Ukraine’s Constitutional Court abolishing the 2004 constitutional amendments.

DW: The 2004 political reform was at one time supported by the Party of the Regions. Does it not elicit surprise that it is at the initiative of Party of the Regions deputies that the Constitutional Court reviewed the changes and found them in contravention of the Constitution?

It is at least surprising that the Constitutional Court after making amendments to the rules for forming a coalition have now changed this judgment (on the political reform – Ed.) as well. After all, over six years the judges not only said that they did not have criticism of the constitutional amendments, but many politicians supported that view. Now they say that it was all incorrect and that it’s necessary to return to the 1996 Constitution. Such a situation arouses at very least bemusement. The main problem for Ukraine’s development over recent years, regardless of which party is in question, has been that political players have tried to use the courts and political structures for their own, absolutely private purposes. In my view, this demonstrates that such a problem exists in Ukraine.

DW  What does the Judgment of the Constitutional Court mean for Ukraine’s political situation?

Constitutional Courts pass judgments in other countries also, not only in Ukraine. The difference is merely that, say in Poland, Germany, France, where there are also winners and losers, the Court’s judgments are accepted both by politicians and by the public. In Ukraine in the past we saw that both politicians and members of the public had the impression that the judgments are political, not legal. I can’t at present answer the question what the Judgment means in specific detail. I will be extremely interested to know how lawyers in Ukraine, however also constitutional experts in the European Union and Council of Europe assess this situation. What does it mean for the President who swore on a Constitution which is no longer valid? What does it mean for parliament whose powers have now, probably, changed? In my opinion, after such a Constitutional Court judgment a lot of open questions arise which need to be resolved. And this is probably not the end of discussion around the Constitution in Ukraine.

DW.  What do you think will be the reaction of the European Union which Ukrainian politicians speak of their desire to integrate with?

I think that in the EU they expect that this Constitutional Court Judgment will arouse intensive debate regarding the Constitution, within which all parties – the government, the opposition, society, public figures – will discuss the political system and find solutions which all can accept. A Constitution which is not accepted by a large percentage of political players does not lead to political stability. We have seen this over recent years.

The interviewer was Volodymyr Medyany

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