Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with Constitutional Court judges

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Belarus continues to realize the potential of the Constitution relying on the fundamental values enshrined in the document and to protect the interests of its people, President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with the judges of the Constitutional Court on 14 March.

The President drew attention to the fact that the date of the meeting with the judges was not chosen by chance. These days Belarus is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Constitution of Belarus. "For our young state, the basic law was the main starting point for the development of the national legal system, the guarantee of respect for the rights and legitimate interests of citizens," the President said. According to him, the nationwide referendum in 1996 has strengthened the system of state power, and contributed to the creation of effective public and political tools.

The head of state noted that the adoption of the Constitution was of paramount importance for the development of Belarus. "Much has been done during this period. Those who remember the 1990s can objectively compare the changes and the development of our state,” the President said.

"It is very important that people trust their state. Therefore, I want to assure you and the people of Belarus that we have always supported and will continue supporting anyone who makes a worthy contribution to the building of a strong, stable and prosperous Belarus,” he said.

“We do not need upheavals and revolutions. We do not allow any kind of extremism in the country. Our people live, learn and work peacefully. The state will continue to create conditions for a free and dignified development of the individual, ensure law and order," the President remarked.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that the stability of the country is ensured primarily by strong power and huge support from an absolute majority of the people.

The President reminded that this year Belarus will host another important political event, i.e. the elections to the local councils of deputies will take place on 23 March.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the current convocation of councils of deputies did their job well. “However, life goes on and we still have many things to do. Therefore, it is important to know who will be elected members of local councils of deputies and who will work for the benefit of our country,” the head of state said.

“During the elections Belarusian citizens will have a chance to make a difference. Therefore, I urge our people to come to polling stations and make an informed choice. The opinion of every person is important for us,” the President stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the elections should be conducted in a calm environment. “I assure you that we will guarantee safety for all organizers and participants of the election campaign. We have enough forces and facilities for that,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the Constitutional Court will celebrate its anniversary this year as well. 20 years of its formation and development have shown that it has taken a worthy place in the state system of the country, the President said. He recalled that in 2008, the role of the Constitutional Court was strengthened as its powers, functions and control of the constitutionality of laws were expanded. This year, lawmakers gave it an important legal instrument - the law on the constitutional legal proceedings.

Addressing the judges, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that he would like to hear an objective assessment of the activity of the Constitutional Court: “The problems that hinder a full-fledged operation of the court are better seen from inside.” The President added that he expects from the judges proposals on additional diplomatic solutions for addressing problems if needed. He stressed that it should be well-thought proposals that take into account the interests of the state and the society.

According to Chairman of the Constitutional Court Piotr Miklashevich, the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus imbibed many basic values formulated by the mankind and determined democratic milestones for the development of the state and society. The Constitution is the foundation of civil and social accord, the democratic social legitimate state.

“It is important to ensure further evolutionary constitutional development, preserve and promote constitutional values, consistently constitutionalize social relations,” the Chairman of the Constitutional Court said.

According to Piotr Miklashevich, the exiting level of state construction, social and economic progress, modern integration processes bespeak the necessity to work out a comprehensive document – the unified concept of the state legal policy of the Republic of Belarus with a view to ensure appropriate legal protection of national and social interests, rights and liberties of people in modern conditions.

Piotr Miklashevich said that Belarus gradually improves the legal framework of the Constitutional Court. “The legal acts which will be passed in April 2014 aim to specify functions of the Constitutional Court and to facilitate constitutional proceedings. At the same time, it is necessary to elaborate issues related to the regulation of people’s access to constitutional justice, participation of courts of general jurisdiction in the audit of the constitutionality of the legal framework which shall be used to hear certain cases, and eventually to guarantee that an efficient mechanism will be used to examine the constitutionality of the established practice in applying the law by courts and other law enforcement agencies,” the Chairman of the Constitutional Court said.

Constitutional Court judge Sergei Chigrinov remarked that in 2008 presidential decree No.14 gave several new functions to the Constitutional Court. It allowed advancing the constitutional control to a new level. At the same time the law on constitutional court proceedings stipulated the ways for the Constitutional Court to exercise its power. “Yet the implementation of individual clauses of the new law needs concerted efforts of interested government agencies. I mean plenipotentiary representatives of the President of the Republic of Belarus, the chambers of the parliament, and the Council of Ministers in the Constitutional Court. The views of the supreme government agencies, particularly on fundamental matters of legal regulation, should be represented during court proceedings,” he said.

Moreover, Sergei Chigrinov believes that in the future it is needed to legalize the order of indirect access of people to the constitutional justice via state bodies which have the right to initiate constitutional proceedings. “Apart from that, we believe that it is necessary to elaborate the issue of direct access of people to the constitutional justice, i.e. when a person files a complaint to the Constitutional Court about the infringement upon their rights as a result of the application of the legal act which constitutionality can be debated,” the judge remarked.

According to Sergei Chigrinov, certain post-Soviet states have already introduced the practice. “In the future we will be able to consider direct as a reserve for the development of the constitutional control,” he added.

Deputy Chairperson of the Constitutional Court Olga Sergeyeva told those present at the meeting about international cooperation. In her words, such cooperation helps maintain constructive dialogue at the professional level and promotes the development of constitutional proceedings in Belarus, enhances democracy and guarantees the rule of law.

All the proposals were discussed by the participants of the meeting. Partaking in it were also Deputy Head of the Belarus President Administration Valery Mitskevich, Chairman of the Supreme Court Valentin Sukalo, Chairman of Council of the Republic of the National Assembly Anatoly Rubinov and Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly Viktor Guminsky.

In general, the attendees said that Belarus has a clear-cut system which allows people to file complaints on whether norms comply with the Constitution. There are certain bodies which, as practice shows, deal with these complaints and give necessary clarifications without the involvement of the Constitutional Court.

“As for the direct application of citizens to the Constitutional Court, we do not mean that we need to introduce it right now. We mean that the constitutional control I being developed and sooner or later we will launch this process,” the Chairman of the Constitutional Court added.

The meeting also focused on the need to appoint plenipotentiary representatives in the Constitutional Court. “In this case the representation is ensured for every case. The Prime Minister, the Head of the Belarus President Administration can appoint a plenipotentiary representative to sit on Constitutional Court sessions. We believe that there is no sense in appointing a salaried plenipotentiary representative even taking into account the optimization of the workload on personnel and the state expenses for such representatives,” Valery Mitskevich said.

Viktor Guminsky agreed with the statement that there was no sense in appointing salaried representatives. “In the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, let us say, the Chairman of the Legislation Commission could be the link between the House of Representatives and the Constitutional Court for the sake of resolving individual issues in a timely manner,” he suggested.

Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed an opinion that the issues raised by the Constitutional Court can be resolved.

While speaking about the future development of the constitutional foundation of the Belarusian state the President said that amendments to the Constitution to match the spirit of new time and the progress of the society cannot be ruled out. “Sooner or later we will have to pass a new constitution. Not a constitution for the transition period but a constitution for a well-developed Belarusian state,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. “If we have to create one, I would very much like judges of the Constitutional Court and the entire court to get involved in it as citizens”.

Aleksandr Lukashenko agreed with the proposal to nominate unsalaried plenipotentiary representatives of the President, the chambers of the parliament, and the Council of Ministers in the Constitutional Court. “Let’s appoint them. The Court does not require dedicated representatives. The Court needs decisions. The head Of the Belarus President Administration or the Deputy Head could be a permanent representative. The same is true for the commission chairman like you said,” noted the head of state.

Apart from that, Natalia Karpovich was sworn in as a judge of the Constitutional Court of Belarus.

Aleksandr Lukashenko presented Natalia Karpovich with an identity document of the judge of the Constitutional Court as well as a gift-wrapped copy of the Constitution.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also awarded judges of the Constitutional Court for many years of service and high professionalism, their considerable personal contributions to the development of the court system and the enhancement of the Constitution-based justice system. In particular, the head of state awarded a medal for labor merits to Sergei Chigrinov. Tadeush Voronovich was awarded the title of an honored lawyer of Belarus. Vladimir Izotko was officially thanked by the Belarusian President.