Armenian PM says peace deal with Azerbaijan needs only 'adjustments' before signing

armenian pm says peace deal with azerbaijan needs only 'adjustments' before signing

FILE PHOTO: Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attends a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at the summit of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in Moscow, Russia, May 8, 2024. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool/File Photo

By Felix Light

TBILISI (Reuters) - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Wednesday that a peace treaty with Azerbaijan was close to completion but that his country would not accept Baku's demands that it change its constitution.

Armenian news site CivilNet quoted Pashinyan as saying that the text of the proposed treaty was "quite mature" and that it could be signed after "adjustments".

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have repeatedly stated their intention to sign a peace deal to end one of the former Soviet Union's longest-running conflicts, which broke out between the two sides over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the late 1980s.

In September 2023, Azerbaijan retook control of Karabakh, ending the region's de facto independence from Baku that it had won in the early 1990s, and prompting virtually its entire ethnic Armenian population to flee to Armenia.

The two sides have since been negotiating a peace treaty and demarcating their 1,000 km (625 mile) shared border, which is closed and heavily militarised.

After several months of stalled negotiations, Armenia last month returned four ruined Azerbaijani villages it had held since the early 1990s, clearing a major hurdle in the ongoing talks.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly demanded that Armenia change its constitution to remove an indirect reference to Karabakh independence before inking a peace deal.

CivilNet cited Pashinyan as saying on Wednesday that the insistance on constitutional amendments represented an attempt at "torpedoing" the peace process, even as he said that the deal's prospects remained good.

Russian peacekeeping troops who were deployed in Karabakh after a 44-day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2020 completed their full withdrawal on Wednesday, Azerbaijan's defence ministry said.

Armenia has bitterly criticised the failure of the Russians to intervene and stop Azerbaijan from retaking Karabakh, and has frozen its participation in a military alliance of former Soviet states led by Moscow.

(Reporting by Felix Light; editing by Mark Trevelyan and Gareth Jones)

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