Pashinyan Orders Drafting Of New Armenian Constitution

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By Gayane Saribekian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has ordered an ad hoc body set up by him to start drafting a new Armenian constitution amid Azerbaijan’s continuing demands for such a legislative change.

The Council on Constitutional Reforms was formed in 2022 with the aim of proposing amendments to Armenia’s current constitution. An executive order signed by Pashinyan and publicized on May 24 changed the council’s mandate, saying that it must draft a “new constitution” from scratch before January 2027.

Artur Sakunts, a civic activist sitting on the council, said on June 19 that the body has not yet met to discuss its new mission. He said he does not know whether Pashinyan’s order means that he will have to “throw away” the results of his work done since 2022.

“There are lots of issues that are not clear to us,” Sakunts told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Pashinyan declared in January that Armenia needs a new constitution reflecting the “new geopolitical environment” in the region. He later denied critics’ claims that he wants to scrap the country’s current constitution at the behest of Baku. Still, Pashinyan said that peace with Azerbaijan will be impossible as long as its preamble refers to Armenia’s 1990 declaration of independence.

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The declaration in turn cites a 1989 unification act adopted by the legislative bodies of Soviet Armenia and the then Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly said since January that this constitutional reference amounts to territorial claims to Azerbaijan and must be removed before Baku can sign a peace treaty with Yerevan. The only legal way to do that is to enact a new constitution through a referendum.

On June 7, the Armenian Foreign Ministry issued a statement rejecting Aliyev’s demands as a “blatant interference in the internal affairs of our country” and accusing him of “torpedoing the peace process.” The ministry also said one of the “agreed provisions” of a draft peace treaty discussed by Baku and Yerevan stipulates that the parties cannot use their domestic legislation for not complying with the document.

Aliyev renewed his demands in late April after forcing Pashinyan’s administration to agree to hand over four disputed border areas to Azerbaijan. Armenian opposition leaders have strongly condemned Pashinyan for bowing to the Azerbaijani pressure, saying that the land transfer will only encourage Baku to demand more Armenian concessions.

 

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