Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

Armenian Constitutional Reforms Council ‘Unaware’ of Decree to Draft New Constitution

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By Arshaluys Barseghyan

Several members of Armenia’s Council for Constitutional Reforms have said they were not informed that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had issued a decree last month to draft a new constitution by December 2026.

RFE/RL reported on June 19 that some of the council’s members only learned of Pashinyan’s decree recently, despite it having been issued on May 24.

The Constitutional Reforms Council is responsible for drafting constitutional amendments.

In a later decision, Pashinyan apparently amended the council’s tasks and responsibilities, replacing their task to “draft amendments to the constitution” with “drafting a new constitution.”

Pashinyan stated in January that Armenia needed a new constitution, explaining that the constitution should be adopted by a fair referendum. He said the country needed a constitution that would make it ‘more competitive and more viable in the new geopolitical and regional conditions’.

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Observers at the time attributed Pashinyan’s announcement to pressure from Azerbaijan.

In early June, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev stated that it would be “simply impossible” to reach a peace deal if the Armenian constitution ‘remains unchanged’, arguing that it laid claims to territories in Azerbaijan and Turkey.

The Armenian constitution references the Armenian Declaration of Independence, which includes a joint decision by the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Karabakh Council to “reunify the Armenian SSR and the Mountainous Region of Karabakh.”

Artur Sakunts, the head of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor and a civil society representative on the council, told RFE/RL that he only learned of the decision on June 19.

He said that the council had already sent a preliminary version of the concept to the government, and that it was unclear whether they would have to start their work on an entirely new constitution.

Sakunts said that he opposed the removal of any references to the Declaration of Independence.

Another civil society representative in the council, Daniel Ioannisyan of the Union of Informed Citizens, argued that the council could only vote on the declaration’s removal from the constitution following public discussions on the matter.

Commenting on Aliyev’s remarks about Armenia’s constitution, Ioannisyan said that it should only be discussed with the citizens of Armenia.

“And one more thing: there is a need to show the world that the constitution of Azerbaijan also contains significant territorial claims against Armenia,” he added.

The authorities in Yerevan have consistently denied that amendments to the constitution were part of the peace negotiations with Azerbaijan.

Prior to Aliyev’s latest remarks on the constitution, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan reiterated that the constitution was not part of the negotiations, despite both countries noting ‘significant problems and obstacles’ to peace in each other’s constitutions.

On June 20, Mirzoyan said that Armenia had sent “very constructive” peace treaty drafts to Azerbaijan, stressing his country’s willingness to finalize the agreement during the upcoming month.

“Unfortunately, we have not been hearing from the Azerbaijani side so far. Moreover, Azerbaijan is bringing new issues which at least raise questions about their genuineness towards the final goal of establishing peace in our neighborhood and broader region,” he said.

(This article originally appeared on the website OC-Media on June 20.)

 

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