It’ Not Just Armenia’s Constitution that Baku Wants Changed. There Are Other Documents

The Constitution of the Republic of Armenia

Last week President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan said that Armenia must change its constitution in order to make peace with Azerbaijan. Now official Baku is claiming that it is not just the Constitution, but there are other documents that are problematic.

Aliyev and his government want the Armenian Constitution changed because its preamble calls for the unification of Armenia and Artsakh, as stated in the country’s Declaration of Independence.

Elchin Amirbayov, Azerbaijan’s senior envoy for special assignments who has been closely involved in the negotiations, told RFE/RL’s Joshua Kucera that there are several other instances where Armenia’s claim on Artsakh appear in Armenia’s formal statements and legislation.

For example, he said, when Armenia’s legislature ratified the 1991 Alma Ata accords, which accepted Soviet republic borders as the borders of the newly independent states, lawmakers added language saying that it did not apply to Artsakh.

Amirbayov also called attention to language on the Armenian Foreign Ministry website saying that Nagorno-Karabakh is “an integral part of historic Armenia,” and recent Armenian filings in the European Court of Human Rights that imply a claim on Azerbaijan.

“We have pointed the attention of the Armenian side to those facts many times, during our [in-person] negotiations, but also through different exchanges of comments,” Amirbayov said. “And the Armenian side acknowledges that this is the fact, but nothing is being done…. When they try to cheat, if I may use the word, if they try to put all the blame and the responsibility on our shoulders, and at the same time in the back of their minds still having these territorial claims against us, it’s not going to work,” he added.

Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan has alluded to the process Amirbayov described. “As part of the peace process, each side has noted problems in the other’s legal framework and informed it about that, and both sides have provided relevant clarifications,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on January 25. “There will definitely be such discussions.”

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday again made his case to parliament for the need to change Armenia’s Constitution. In doing so he said that if Armenians are guided by the Declaration of Independence then peace would not be possible. This and other such statements have angered opposition lawmakers and activists, who claim that Pashinyan’s push for a new constitution is meant to appease Baku and by extension Ankara.