Armenia and Azerbaijan Address Concerns Over Territorial Integrity

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 21 Issue: 11

(Source: Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia)

Executive Summary:

  • Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has proposed a new constitution to address matters of external security and territorial integrity, which continue to hold up peace negotiations between Baku and Yerevan.
  • Azerbaijan and Armenia have expressed the necessity of unambiguously recognizing one another’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in establishing a lasting peace in the South Caucasus.
  • Differences in how Baku and Yerevan see the security and administration of the Zangezur Corridor could derail the peace process.

On January 19, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called for a new constitution in a meeting with senior officials from the Armenian Ministry of Justice. Pashinyan asserted that Armenia needs “a new constitution, not constitutional changes,” adding that the new foundational document would make the country “more competitive and viable in the new geopolitical and regional environment” (, January 19). He highlighted that the new constitution would maintain the present parliamentary system and underscored “external security” and “internationally recognized sovereign territory” as the main issues to be addressed. Mutual respect for one another’s territorial integrity remains a sticking point in peace negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. If Yerevan proceeds with Pashinyan’s proposal, the new constitution would eliminate certain hurdles to signing a peace treaty with Baku.

Pashinyan’s plan is widely believed to be related to the normalization of Armenian relations with Azerbaijan and Türkiye. Azerbaijani officials and experts often argue that the current Armenian constitution contains territorial claims against Baku and Ankara. In 2021, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev referred to this as one of the main challenges to peace efforts in the South Caucasus. In an interview with a Turkish media channel, Aliyev declared, “There is a territorial claim against Türkiye in the Constitution of Armenia. They should abandon that. They need to revise and re-adopt their constitution. … They must give up their claims against Türkiye and Azerbaijan” (, September 28, 2021).

Yerevan also has concerns about Azerbaijan respecting Armenia’s territorial integrity. On October 17, 2023, during a session of the European Parliament, Pashinyan stated, “Armenia recognizes Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity within [a land area of] 86,600 square kilometers. But the president of Azerbaijan has not responded in kind. … This has raised concerns among some analysts that he is deliberately maintaining some ambiguity in order to make territorial claims against Armenia” (TASS, October 17, 2023). Baku has tried to alleviate those concerns and, in December, signed a joint statement “reconfirming the intention to normalize relations and reach a peace treaty on the basis of respect for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity” (Euronews, December 7, 2023).

Pashinyan’s government seems to have accepted Baku’s worries and agrees with the necessity of unambiguously recognizing both countries’ territorial integrity. On January 20, during a meeting with members of his political party, Pashinyan stated that Armenia and Azerbaijan need to ensure that there will be no basis for the resurgence of territorial claims in the future. He declared, “Diplomatic texts always have different twists, subtexts, and footnotes. The footnotes of Azerbaijan’s proposals, and perhaps Azerbaijan in ours, observe the dangers of territorial claims, if not today, then in the future” (, January 20).

The opening of the Zangezur Corridor has become a more contentious issue in this regard and threatens to derail the peace process. In an interview with local television channels on January 10, Aliyev stated that, if this corridor remains closed, Azerbaijan refuses to open its border with Armenia anywhere else (, January 10). The Azerbaijani government expects Yerevan to provide “unimpeded” land passage between the western part of mainland Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan exclave as envisioned under the November 2020 trilateral statement ending the Second Karabakh War. Baku insists that cargo, passengers, and vehicles should be subject to inspection and customs clearance only when they travel internationally, not between mainland Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan. Azerbaijan also expects Armenia to agree with the deployment of Russian border guards along the corridor.

Armenia has not agreed to these terms, while Russia agrees with only the second condition. Yerevan has proposed providing the Zangezur Corridor with the same regulations that would be applied to the trans-Iranian Aras Corridor (, January 17). This is unacceptable to the Russian side, as Moscow wants Armenia to abide by the November 2020 trilateral statement. The Kremlin, however, rejects the Azerbaijani proposal for unchecked and customs-free passage along the Zangezur Corridor. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, such an arrangement had never been discussed in the earlier trilateral meetings of Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Russian leaders (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (MID), January 18).

Lavrov also argues that Russian border guards should regulate transit along this land route, including customs and security checks. In a briefing on January 18, Lavrov said, “Armenia is having difficulty opening the route as laid out in the trilateral statement. Yerevan is putting forward additional security requirements for the route. It does not want Russian border guards to be there, though this is written in the statement that bears Pashinyan’s signature. He does not want to see non-aligned customs and border control. He wants Armenia to run it, which contradicts the agreement” (MID, January 18). Additionally, Lavrov criticized Western interference for blocking the implementation of the agreements reached by the regional countries.

Armenia and Azerbaijan appear to agree on the necessity for unequivocal recognition of one another’s territorial integrity to facilitate lasting peace in the region. The disputes concerning the Zangezur Corridor, however, may delay their efforts to sign a peace agreement in the near future. Further complicating matters, the Zangezur issue has wider geopolitical implications, directly involving Russia and indirectly involving the West. Baku realizes the disadvantages of this situation and calls for bilateral talks with Yerevan on all remaining issues between the two states, promoting the “regional solutions to regional problems” approach (see EDM, October 25, November 13, 27, 2023). The two republics of the South Caucasus may be unable to reach a peace treaty if they fail to neutralize the self-serving intervention of third parties.