Aliyev Says No Peace Without Changes in Armenia’s Constitution

Armenia must change its constitution in order to make peace with Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Thursday, stoking Armenian opposition claims that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has already agreed to make such a concession to Baku.

“In case of changing Armenia’s constitution and other documents, peace could be achieved,” Aliyev said. “Armenia’s Declaration of Independence contains direct call for uniting Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region to Armenia and infringing on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Armenia’s constitution cites that document.”

Pashinyan stated on January 18 that Armenia must adopt a new constitution reflecting the “new geopolitical environment” in the region. Critics believe he first and foremost wants to get rid of the current constitution’s preamble that makes reference to the declaration cited by Aliyev.

The declaration adopted in 1990 in turn cites a 1989 unification act by the legislative bodies of Soviet Armenia and the then Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast. It also calls for international recognition of the 1915 genocide of Armenians “in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.”

Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan acknowledged last week that Azerbaijan has objected to this constitutional introduction during talks on a peace treaty with Armenia. But both he and Pashinyan allies claimed that the Armenian leadership is not seeking to change the constitution because of that.

Armenian opposition leaders portrayed Aliyev’s latest statement as further proof of their claims that Pashinyan is planning to enact a new constitution at the behest of Baku as well as Ankara. One of them, Artsvik Minasyan, said the two Turkic allies want to force the Armenians to “renounce their historical past and rights.”

“If you do what your enemy wants, it means you obey its rules of the game,” Minasyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Vladimir Vartanian, a senior pro-government lawmaker, stuck to the official line that Pashinyan’s administration is not forced to embark on the constitutional reform. “No constitution can be adopted under pressure because if we adopt a constitution under pressure it means that we have a problem with our sovereignty,” he said.

Pashinyan called for the new constitution just days after complaining that Aliyev has toughened its position on the Armenian-Armenian peace treaty and openly laid claim to Armenian territory. He went on to offer more security “guarantees” to Baku. Pashinyan’s political opponents say this appeasement policy will not lead to a lasting peace between the two South Caucasus nations.

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