As long as Armenia's constitution enshrines territorial claims against its neighbours, a peace treaty is impossible

04.07.24 18:06

The leadership of the Republic of Armenia is increasingly talking about its readiness to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan. However, the question naturally arises - against whom is Armenia so actively arming itself, buying state-of-the-art weapons from the same France? Isn't Yerevan's "peace-loving" rhetoric just a diplomatic trick to buy time and prepare for a new aggression?


Meanwhile, the statements of Armenian officials are becoming more and more insistent. Last week, during a visit to Estonia, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said that the text of the draft peace treaty with Azerbaijan was almost ready and that Armenia was ready to sign it within a month: "We have been involved in negotiations with Azerbaijan on this issue and Armenia is ready to fully finalise the text within a month and sign the peace treaty with Azerbaijan," Mirzoyan said, lamenting that he had not seen "a positive reaction from Azerbaijani colleagues to Armenia's proposal to sign the peace treaty".


"Armenia remains committed to the peace agenda, normalisation of relations with Azerbaijan, recognition of the territorial integrity of the two countries on the basis of the 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration, continuation of the delimitation process on the basis of this Declaration," Ararat Mirzoyan said.  According to him, "it is time to close the page of conflict in the South Caucasus and bring peace to the region".


On the same day, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Ceyhun Bayramov, who was on an official visit to Georgia, actually gave a reply to Ararat Mirzoyan. According to the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, despite significant progress on the text of the peace agreement, the continuing claims to Azerbaijan's territorial integrity in the Constitution of Armenia and other legislative acts of that country are the main obstacle to the peace process.


Azerbaijan's principled position on the peace treaty with Armenia was reaffirmed by President Ilham Aliyev on 1 July. The Azerbaijani president stressed that no peace treaty will be signed with Armenia until the Armenian constitution is amended to remove its territorial claims on Azerbaijan.


"The main condition for a peace agreement is to change the Armenian constitution. Because it contains territorial claims to Azerbaijan. And as long as this is not done, the peace agreement will not be signed," said Ilham Aliyev.


The Azerbaijani president gave a positive assessment of the "rather accelerated progress in the peace talks" with Armenia: "We can finalise the text of the peace treaty, at least the basic principles, within a few months", but he reiterated that "this is possible if the Armenian constitution is changed".


In fact, today's Armenian constitution, nowhere but in its preamble, explicitly refers to territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Therefore, any peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan is meaningless, as it will by definition contradict the basic law of the Armenian state. For the Armenian nationalists, this treaty will be a meaningless paper, a "fake diploma". They will use the "peace treaty" to lull their neighbours into complacency and buy time. They will annul it as "contrary to the Constitution of Armenia" at any moment when they think they have gathered enough forces for military revenge.


The preamble of the Constitution of Armenia states:


"The Armenian people, based on the fundamental principles of Armenian statehood and the nationwide goals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence of Armenia, fulfilling the sacred promise of their freedom-loving ancestors to re-establish a sovereign state dedicated to strengthening the power and prosperity of the Motherland, in the name of ensuring the freedom of generations, common welfare and civil harmony, reaffirming their loyalty to universal values, adopt the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia.


Thus, the preamble states that the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia is based "on the fundamental principles of Armenian statehood and the nationwide goals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence of Armenia".


We further read in the main body of the Declaration of Independence of Armenia:


"The Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR, expressing the united will of the people of Armenia, conscious of its responsibility for the destiny of the Armenian people, fulfils the aspirations of all Armenians and restores historical justice, proceeding from the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the universally recognised norms of international law, realising the right of nations to free self-determination, on the basis of the joint resolution of the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR and the National Council of Nagorno-Karabakh of 1 December 1989 "On the Reunification of the Armenian SSR and Nagorno-Karabakh", developing the democratic traditions of the independent Republic of Armenia, founded on 28 May 1918, with the aim of creating a democratic, legal society, DECLARES the beginning of the process of establishing independent statehood..."


Thus, the Constitution of Armenia contains a direct reference to the absolutely illegal joint resolution of the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR and the National Council of Nagorno-Karabakh of 1 December 1989 "On the reunification of the Armenian SSR and Nagorno-Karabakh".


But it follows that any treaty that denies the possibility of the so-called "reunification of Armenia and Artsakh" would contradict the Preamble of the Constitution of Armenia and the Declaration of Independence of Armenia. Meanwhile, according to Article 116 (3) of the Armenian Constitution, "international treaties that contradict the Constitution cannot be ratified". The circle is closed.


Any peace treaty with Azerbaijan that contradicts the constitutional provision on the "reunification of 'Artsakh' with Armenia" for Armenian nationalists will be legally null and void. It may not even be ratified. And even if it is ratified, this ratification will be annulled at any moment as "contradictory to the Constitution". Moreover, the preamble is one of the few parts of the Armenian constitution that has not been changed since its adoption.


What is the point of Azerbaijan signing such a treaty? Which by definition would be a sham. Because tomorrow either Galstanyan or Nikol Pashinyan, who has come to power in Armenia, will declare this treaty null and void?


Therefore, Azerbaijan demands that any reference to territorial claims against Azerbaijan be removed from the Armenian Constitution. Moreover, amendments to the Constitution, to its preamble, should be adopted according to the full procedure, with a national referendum, so that later there will be no excuse that "we changed the Constitution at the request of Azerbaijan, but the Armenian people were against it". The people of the Republic of Armenia, if they want peace, must support constitutional changes that exclude claims against neighbours. Only then can a peace treaty be signed.


Changing the Armenian constitution is also necessary to normalise relations with Turkey. Because in the same Declaration of Independence that is referred to in the Preamble of the Constitution, Article 11 states: "The Republic of Armenia is in favour of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia". This means that here again there are territorial claims against Turkey, whose territories are declared to be a certain "Western Armenia", as well as an absolutely unacceptable alarm - about the recognition of the mythical "Armenian Genocide". Unless the reference to these absolutely unacceptable provisions for Turkey is removed from the preamble of the Armenian constitution, there can be no talk of good neighbourly relations between the two countries.


The issue of the country's constitution is very serious, and the people of Armenia should be aware of this. For example, the Georgian constitution guarantees the Abkhazians, as an indigenous population, autonomy and state status for the Abkhazian language. This means that the Georgian Constitution itself is a guarantee that the Abkhazians are not threatened with loss of identity and self-government, assimilation, deprivation of rights and dilution of identity. Incidentally, before 2020, before the war, Azerbaijan offered the Armenians extensive autonomy within Azerbaijan.


And the so-called "recognition of independence" by Russia of Abkhazia, which occupies these Georgian territories, is also a false diploma. The same as the "recognition of independence" of the separatist DNR and LNR on the territory of the Ukrainian Donbass, which "existed" for a little more than half a year and were annexed in the autumn of 2022, organised by the Kremlin in February 2022. The same thing awaits separatist Abkhazia at any moment. It can also be annexed like the separatist DNR and LNR. And then the Abkhazians will have no rights in the Russian Federation according to that country's constitution, unlike Georgia's. The Abkhazians, who are already dying out and forgetting their language, can simply be deported, especially as there are many precedents in history for the deportation of entire peoples by the Kremlin.


Alexander Gedevanov

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