Constitutional reforms planned by NKR and how they will strengthen the unrecognized state security
Constitutional reforms in NKR
Authorities of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic have initiated a series of constitutional reforms to transition from a presidential to a semi-presidential system of government. The authors of the project cite the need to ensure the security of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the modern challenges facing the country, including military ones. It is said that it is the semi-presidential system that will provide a more flexible government in emergency situations.
Political scientist Andrias Ghukasyan believes that the constitutional reforms in NK can become a chance for international recognition. However, he is unsure whether the authorities of the unrecognized republic are ready for this.
Political crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh
“The intention to change the system of government in Artsakh is evidence of the political crisis that occurred after the 44-day war in the fall of 2020. The question of the resignation of the current leadership of Artsakh also arose, but for this, it took some time for the situation to stabilize. Now we see that the political forces are again raising this topic and, in fact, the authorities are meeting the demands of the opposition.
Most likely, we are talking about the holding of early elections in 2023. In this regard, the problem also arises that, according to the current constitution, there can be no separate parliamentary and presidential elections, so there is a need to change the constitution”.
Compliance of the constitution with international criteria
“As for the political aspect, just like in 2016, when constitutional reforms were being developed in Artsakh [on strengthening the presidential form of government – JAMnews], and now, an important criterion is the development of such a document that will be recognized by the international community. Such a document will not be rejected by the international community and will allow the authorities to avoid the statement (that has become a classic for Artsakh) about the non-recognition of the referendum or elections held here.
Whatever model of government is considered, first of all, it is necessary to understand the need to develop a document taking into account the problem of the status of NK and the settlement of the Karabakh conflict as a whole.
The Constitution of the NKR must comply with the criteria for the recognition of states by the international community in terms of human rights. It should reflect all the problematic issues that exist now. Trying to avoid difficult problems, trying not to see them, or postponing them to a later date is dangerous in today’s situation. This policy did not allow the constitutional processes in Artsakh in 2016 to become a serious factor in conflict resolution.
The constitutional process and the settlement issue should not be considered separately from each other, but as a single process. This was not done in 2016, which led to the fact that such states as France, the USA, and the EU states did not accept it.
Today it is important that international organizations and international players participate in the process of drafting the constitution. Their approaches and standards should be reflected in the main document. But the authorities are carrying out hasty work, there is no wide participation in the development of the document. This suggests that only the NK leadership needs constitutional changes”.
Human rights at stake
“This constitution should guarantee equal rights to everyone, regardless of nationality and race. The rights of Azerbaijani refugees who left the NKAR and Armenian refugees who left the Shahumyan region as a result of hostilities in 1991 should also be taken into account. International standards in the field of human rights, features of justice, and guarantees of justice for all must be taken into account.
It is necessary to strictly follow the norms of the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted in 1992 by the Supreme Council. The Declaration of September 2, 1991, adopted by the councils of deputies of the NKAO and the Shahumyan region, should be recognized as an important initial political act and not try to cover more.
Let me remind you that in April-August 1991, as a result of the military-terrorist operation “Ring” carried out jointly by the Soviet troops and the Azerbaijani special ops, the Armenian population of several villages in the Shahumyan region, was forced to leave their native places. However, Azerbaijan sought to completely expel the Armenians and capture the entire Shaumyan, which was done in June 1992.
But as early as September 2, 1991, based on the USSR law “On the procedure for resolving issues related to the secession of the union republic from the USSR”, a joint session of deputies of all levels of the NKAR and the Shahumyan region proclaimed the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The Declaration, in particular, noted that it expresses “the will of the people, enshrined in the actually held referendum and in the decisions of the authorities of the NKAO and the Shahumyan region in 1988-1991, its desire for freedom, independence, equality, and good neighborliness”.
Constitutional reforms are a very serious process, and in order to cover all the necessary aspects, the participation of international organizations and an expert community with international experience is necessary.
But the way the current political forces of Artsakh approach this is very wrong.
The international community cannot ignore Nagorno Karabakh’s appeal. It cannot ignore any processes related to the establishment of democracy, the realization of human rights, the realization of the fundamental right of every person to such an order that allows him to fully realize his fundamental rights and freedoms, adopted in the Declaration of Human Rights.
What is the leadership of Artsakh afraid of?
“This has been a problem of political culture for all 30 years. The Artsakh political elite was isolated, formed, and functioned in isolation from international processes. There were, of course, contacts at the international level. Representatives of the NKR visited various states and had the opportunity to present their points of view in the parliaments of many countries.
But in general, the focus on Russia has always been emphasized, and on key issues, the opinion of the international community has been perceived negatively.
International law was perceived more as a problem than as a field for finding solutions. Especially in the issue of territories, the retention of which was perceived by the political forces of Artsakh as a priority, which led to isolation from modern international politics. On this basis, I assess the political establishment of NK as an isolated system, not open to international relations and international law”.
Nagorno-Karabakh may come up with a proposal
“The development of a constitution in accordance with international standards, which will include its own vision of the conflict settlement, will be regarded as an offer by Artsakh itself to cooperate with the international community.
This is not new, such a consensus decision was made by the OSCE member states (former CSCE) in March 1992 on the establishment of the Minsk Conference on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, the participants of which were to be the elected representatives of Artsakh with international powers. According to the decision, the representatives of Artsakh had the right to participate in the conference on issues related to NK as an observer, but they had the right to their own opinion, vision, and concepts.
However, all these years this fact was ignored. And if this continues now, then this will cause very great damage to the national interests of NK”.
Proteges of Moscow or representatives of the people?
“It is very important how the political elite of Artsakh positions itself – as Moscow’s proteges in Karabakh or as representatives of the people, on whose shoulders lies the responsibility for the fate of the state, for its international recognition, for ensuring that it meets the standards and criteria of international recognition?
This political responsibility is much greater than the dependency that came with the defeat of the 2020 war. And the mission of the Russian troops is only to protect the Armenian population. Russia has assumed such responsibility, but this does not give it the right to decide the fate of Artsakh instead of its people, as the US Ambassador to Armenia said in her recent interview. The future of Artsakh should be determined by the people, and not by the Russian Federation or the leadership of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey or other involved states”.
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Who benefits from constitutional reforms in their current form?
“This is due to the interests of political groups within the political establishment of Artsakh, to the detriment of its national interests and the process of conflict resolution. The approach to this constitution is based on ignoring the international community and ignoring the whole reality that exists around Artsakh.
The internal political struggle that is currently ongoing in NK is connected with the political struggle in Armenia. The current President Arayik Autyunyan is perceived in the political system as a protege of the ex-President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, and now there is a struggle to bring to power in Artsakh a supporter of another ex-President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan. But with such a constitution, whoever becomes the leader of Nagorno-Karabakh will have no chance of international recognition, as it is now.
And the task that should be set is how to achieve such a basic law that reflects all the needs of the NKR, taking into account all the processes taking place around it and related to the issue of status”.