Mirzoyan Confirms Baku’s Concerns About Armenia’s Declaration of Independence

Armenia's Declaration of Independence was adopted on August 23, 1990

On the heels of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan calling for a new constitution in Armenia, to be aligned with the region’s geopolitical realities, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan confirmed on Wednesday that Azerbaijan has expressed concerns regarding Armenia’s Declaration of Independence.

In an interview with Azatutyun.am’s Armenian Service, Mirzoyan said that there have been concerns voiced by Baku about Armenia’s Declaration of Independence and thus Armenia’s Constitution, which makes reference to the independence document that clearly calls for the reunification of Armenia and Artsakh.

“Yes, they [Azerbaijan] have loudly raised an issue. They consider [the independence declaration] problematic and have presented legal attributes. Accordingly, we considered their wording to be problematic in the same way,” Mirzoyan said.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Mirzoyan spoke about outstanding legal issues with the constitutions of both countries. In his interview with Azatuyun.am on Wednesday he emphasized that there are no mentions of constitutional changes in the peace treaty drafts that have thus far been exchanged between Yerevan and Baku.

“Within the general peace discussions, there have been concerns voiced about legal matters by both sides and both sides have provided clarifications on the issues accordingly,” Mirzoyan added, emphasizing that discussions about constitutional reforms or drafting a new constitution in Armenia started years ago.

The foreign minister said that while the constitution codifies principles of domestic interrelations for the Republic of Armenia, it can have an impact on regional issues.

“I do not deny that influence and that relationship, but I want to say that there is no such demand or text, project, nothing in the peace agreement,” Mirzoyan said.

Yet Pashinyan did not shy away from criticizing Armenia’s Declaration of Independence on the anniversary of its adoption last August, saying that the wording contained in the document sowed conflict with regional neighbors, characterizing it as a vestige of the Soviet Union.

His announcement last week, that Armenia needed a new constitution that would make Armenia more compatible with new geopolitical realities in the region, has raised concerns among many, including opposition forces, who have accused Pashinyan of kowtowing to Aliyev in advancing the notion of a new constitution.

Pashinyan’s critics were quick to assert that he wants to get rid of a preamble to the current Armenian constitution enacted in 1995. The preamble makes an indirect reference to a 1989 declaration on Armenia’s unification with Nagorno-Karabakh and calls for international recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide.

Five lawmakers representing the main opposition Hayastan alliance last week issued a joint statement accusing Pashinyan of “preparing the ground for meeting another of the nonstop Turkish-Azerbaijani demands.”

One of those lawmakers, Gegham Manukyan, insisted on Tuesday that the main purpose of the planned constitutional change is to remove the preamble in question. Pashinyan’s initiative would thus “tear down the pillars of modern Armenian statehood,” Manukyan told Azatutyun’s Armenian Service.

Tatevik Hayrapetyan, an expert on Azerbaijan and a former parliamentarian critical of the Armenian government, echoed those claims on Wednesday. Hayrapetian pointed out that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev openly demanded constitutional changes from Yerevan in 2021. Baku, she said, now wants to make sure that “in the future Armenia will refrain from claiming its rights to Nagorno-Karabakh under any government.”