Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan at the St. Petersburg summit of CIS Heads of State

Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan at the St. Petersburg summit of CIS Heads of State

President Ilham Aliyev addressed the ongoing peace talks with Armenia during discussions with the secretary-general of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Martin Chungong, on February 1. President Aliyev underscored that Armenia's Declaration of Independence contains direct calls for the annexation of Karabakh, and these claims are reflected in the country's Constitution. He emphasized that sustainable peace could only be achieved if Armenia ceases these claims and amends its constitution and other legal documents accordingly.

In response, Armenia has initiated discussions on changing its constitution, with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stating the necessity for a completely new constitution in light of the evolving geopolitical landscape in the region. However, the Armenian opposition perceives this move as potentially accommodating demands from Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Notably, the peace negotiations have introduced additional conditions from both sides. Azerbaijani officials are advocating for the realization of the "Zangazur Corridor," a road intended to pass through the Sunik region of Armenia, connecting the country's territories with Nakhchivan. Furthermore, Azerbaijan insists on the involvement of Russian armed forces as guarantors, as agreed upon in 2020 between Azerbaijan, Russia, and Armenia.

Armenian officials assert that any road developments should be based on the sovereignty of the country, adding complexity to the negotiation process. The introduction of these new conditions raises concerns about potential delays in reaching a peace agreement.

Deputy Chairman of the Milli Majlis Committee on Defense, Security and Anti-Corruption Hikmet Babaoglu commented on the situation in an interview with Turan, saying that Azerbaijan's position on changing the Constitution of Armenia was obvious from the very beginning of the negotiations. He attributed the delayed public awareness of these conditions to the confidential nature of the peace talks.

Babaoglu identified two critical factors complicating the peace negotiations. Firstly, he highlighted the lack of independence in Armenia, emphasizing President Aliyev's reference to "Armenia+" in an interview, suggesting external influences impeding the peace process. Secondly, he noted the necessity for an agreed-upon map delineating the borders between Azerbaijan and Armenia before progressing towards peace.

While acknowledging potential obstacles, Babaoglu expressed optimism that by the end of 2024, Armenia might reassess its position in the changing regional dynamics, paving the way for a more favorable environment for peace negotiations.

Political commentator Arastun Orujlu, in an interview with Radio Azadlig, expressed concern about the signing of the peace treaty, citing geopolitical shifts and territorial claims present in the Armenian constitution as potential obstacles. Orujlu also emphasized the invisible obstacle of Russia, suggesting Moscow's interest in prolonging the peace process to exert its influence as a mediator and deploy military contingents in the region.

Despite earlier optimistic statements, Orujlu anticipated that the signing of a peace treaty within the current conditions might not materialize in the near future, highlighting the complex dynamics involving territorial disputes, constitutional changes, and the role of external powers.

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