Is the Armenian Constitution the Only Obstacle to Peace?

The path to peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan seems navigable, yet complex, as both nations navigate the intricate web of diplomacy and internal politics. On June 12, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addressed the parliament, indicating that the opening of communications and the delimitation of the border could precede the signing of a formal peace treaty with Azerbaijan. "It is quite possible to form a real world, through practical steps, and then only sign an agreement. But in any case, a peace treaty must be signed," Pashinyan asserted.

Pashinyan emphasized that the draft peace agreement is nearing completion, with only minor adjustments needed before signing. However, he criticized "official Baku's attempt to link the peace agreement with the amendments to the Armenian Constitution," suggesting that such demands represent undue interference in Armenia's domestic affairs.

This issue was further highlighted on June 11 when Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, during a meeting with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock, identified the Armenian Constitution's claims to Azerbaijani territories as a significant barrier to peace. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev echoed this sentiment on June 6, declaring that a peace treaty is impossible as long as Armenia's Constitution remains unchanged.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry responded firmly, stating it has no territorial claims against its neighbors, including Azerbaijan, and accused Baku of meddling in Armenia's internal affairs—a practice that began in 2018.

Political commentator Zardusht Alizadeh, speaking on the "Difficult Question" program, offered a nuanced perspective. He acknowledged that while Armenia's constitutional claims present a formal obstacle, they lack practical significance. "The threat of unleashing a new war by Armenia, which has suffered a heavy defeat and is deprived of international support, is not real," he explained, emphasizing Armenia's dire need for peace amid its profound crisis.

Alizadeh highlighted the precarious position of Pashinyan's government, whose approval ratings have plummeted from 75% to 17%. This political fragility makes a constitutional referendum—a step necessary to amend territorial claims—an unlikely and risky endeavor.

For Azerbaijan, a peace agreement is also desirable, but external factors complicate the situation. Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Alizadeh, opposes a peace treaty between the two nations. He suggested that Putin has tried to destabilize Pashinyan's government to delay the peace process, hoping to further weaken Pashinyan.

Azerbaijan, meanwhile, is seen as strategically stalling the peace agreement to maximize its geopolitical advantages. The influence of Russia, a significant regional power, looms large over the negotiations, adding another layer of complexity.

The geopolitical chess game in the South Caucasus reveals that while the Armenian Constitution presents a hurdle to peace, it is not the only one. Both domestic political calculations and external pressures significantly shape the peace process. As Armenia and Azerbaijan navigate these turbulent waters, the prospect of peace remains contingent on a delicate balance of internal reforms, diplomatic negotiations, and regional power dynamics.

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