Azerbaijan hands over 15 prisoners of war to Armenia in exchange for mine cards

Azerbaijan, mediated by Georgian representatives, extradited 15 prisoners of war to Armenia for a week, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported on Saturday.

In return, Armenia has provided the Azerbaijani authorities with a map of the mines that were placed in a location previously occupied by Armenian soldiers, the ministry said in a statement on its official website.

“We appreciate the support of the Georgian government under the leadership of Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in the implementation of this humanitarian operation,” said the ministry.

Azerbaijan hands over 15 prisoners of war to Armenia in exchange for mine cards
Azerbaijan hands over 15 prisoners of war to Armenia in exchange for mine cards

“At the same time, we particularly emphasize the mediating role of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Acting Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Philip Reeker, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel and the Swedish OSCE Chairmanship for their contribution to the process” , it says in the message.

“Obtaining the mine maps will save the lives and health of tens of thousands of our citizens, including deminers, and displace the reconstruction projects and the return of internal ones initiated by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, in Agdam,” concluded.

Armenia has repeatedly accused Azerbaijan of not releasing all prisoners of war, despite multiple prisoner exchanges more than six months after the end of the fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Azerbaijan then declared that it had fulfilled its obligations. However, according to Baku, the soldiers that Armenia sent to “Azerbaijani territories” after the end of the hostilities were not covered by the agreement.

In the fighting from September 27 to November 9, 2020 for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is located in Azerbaijan but is mainly inhabited by Armenian Christians, the Muslim-majority Azerbaijan recaptured much of the territory that it occupied before Armenia at the beginning of the 1990s. More than 6,000 people died.

The war sparked a political crisis in Armenia. The embattled Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is held responsible for the loss of territory for many Armenians and has repeatedly called for his resignation during major protests.

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