Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

Is Armenia Fulfilling Aliyev’s Demand with New Pashinyan Constitution Proposal?

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YEREVAN (JAMnews) — “The Republic of Armenia needs a new constitution, not constitutional amendments, but a new constitution. And this issue should be the subject of a broad discussion,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said this week.

Armenian experts claim that Pashinyan is essentially fulfilling the demand of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who spoke of the need to provide Baku with guarantees that there will be no “attempts at revanchism” in Armenia. They believe that it is for this purpose that the prime minister proposes to adopt a new legal framework; they also do not rule out pressure from Turkey.

The Armenian Constitution refers to the 1990 Declaration of Independence, the first paragraph of which mentions the joint resolution of the Supreme Council of the Armenian SSR and the National Council of Nagorno-Karabakh of December 1, 1989 “On the Reunification of the Armenian SSR and Nagorno-Karabakh.”

In addition, the declaration enshrines the main provisions of statehood formation, from the establishment of relations with other countries to the demand for “international recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.”

The prime minister announced his proposal at the Ministry of Justice, where a report of work carried out by the ministry in 2023 was discussed: “I am convinced, and time has confirmed, though after stages of some doubts – at least for me and for a number of colleagues – that the parliamentary model of governance is the most appropriate for Armenia, taking into account our democratic aspirations and strategies.”

Pashinyan also said little will change in the current model of governance. What is important to him politically is that The Republic of Armenia have a constitution adopted by the people with the results of the vote beyond doubt, the constitution make the country more competitive and viable in the new geopolitical and regional environment.

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Last year Armenia’s prime minister spoke of disagreement with the Declaration of Independence, which contained a “confrontational narrative.” Until Pashinyan’s latest statement on the need for a new constitution, only amendments to the main law had been discussed. The reform concept has not yet been published; the ministry has sent it to the government. The discussions will start this month. It is planned to approve the concept in three months.

A day after declaring the need to adopt a new constitution, Pashinyan said at a meeting of the initiative group of the ruling Civil Pact party: “We want additional guarantees from Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan from us.”

He explained that he was referring to guarantees to exclude territorial claims against each other. According to him, both countries see subtexts in the peace treaty proposals that could be transformed into “territorial claims, if not today, then in the future.”

“We expect guarantees that Azerbaijan does not intend to leave hidden threats in the subtext for future territorial claims against Armenia. We want such guarantees, but we are also ready to give such guarantees. This is an interconnected process.”

But he did not directly say whether his proposal for new constitution was linked to the provision of these guarantees.

“Assault on a pillar of the Republic of Armenia”

Parliamentary opposition members Gegham Manukyan, Anna Grigoryan, Kristine Vardanyan and Artur Khachatryan, MPs from the Hayastan faction (Armenia), made a joint statement decrying the move.

In their opinion, Pashinyan is thus “preparing the ground for meeting another demand” of the Turkish-Azerbaijani tandem:

“The demands constantly made to the Republic of Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan have been the exclusion of the provisions on the right of the Artsakh people to self-determination and commitment to international recognition of the Armenian genocide from the fundamental documents of the Republic of Armenia.”

Political scientist Suren Surenyants says that the new constitution implies the creation of a new republic. In his opinion, one could talk about an important and new milestone in the development of statehood, if we are talking about political and public discussions on the foundations of statehood.

“Pashinyan, on the other hand, needs a new constitution to ‘edit’ Armenia’s declaration of independence (to exclude what Aliyev calls ‘revanchism’), to establish ‘legitimate’ borders with a new ‘cadastral’ certificate,” Surenyants stated.

He believes that the prime minister is announcing the reduction of Armenia’s territory and wants to give this process a “nationwide package, according to the cadastral certificate certified by Aliyev.”

Political scientist Tigran Grigoryan recalls that in December 2023, Aliyev announced that Baku expected Yerevan to guarantee the exclusion of “revanchism.”

He studied articles by representatives of expert and political circles of Azerbaijan on this topic. He quoted one Azerbaijani expert, Rusif Huseynov, as saying that “Armenia’s legislation still contains territorial claims to Azerbaijan.”

“Such a legal background causes concern in Azerbaijan, where they predict such scenarios, when the Armenian Constitutional Court may reject the peace agreement or a future change of power may lead to territorial claims,” the political scientist wrote on Facebook.

Political analyst Tevan Poghosyan agrees with the opinion that Pashinyan is pushing Aliyev’s demands.

He says that if the constitution were amended, the first two clauses based on the declaration of independence would remain unchanged: “The declaration of independence takes as its basis the objectives of the existence of Artsakh and its unification with Armenia. In order not to preserve all this, Pashinyan says: let’s tear this paper up, throw it away, because Aliyev made a demand and I have to fulfill it.”

He does not rule out that in the future the ruling team will also raise the issue of adopting a new declaration so that the word “Artsakh” is mentioned in it.

According to political scientist Stepan Grigoryan, the declaration of independence contains “painful points” for Turkey as well: “In addition to what is written about the unification of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, there is also an article recognizing the genocide committed by Turkey in Western Armenia and Anatolia.”

Grigoryan says it is necessary to understand exactly what changes Pashinyan is thinking about, whether there is a need for them or whether all this is being done under pressure.

According to him, the new constitution presupposes significant changes. He wonders how the Prime Minister envisions a new constitution if its main provisions are not changed and the model of governance is not changed.

 

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