Russian MFA: Practice of prisoner exchange between Azerbaijan and Armenia should be continued

00:37 | 28 September, 2019

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes that the practice of the exchange of prisoners should be continued,” the Russian Foreign Ministry (MFA) said in response to a request of APA’s Moscow bureau.

It was noted that Russia, as the other co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, provides mediation assistance to the parties in facilitating the fate of persons detained in Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh: “Specific humanitarian measures have been taken, including improving the conditions of detention of detainees. A meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia was held in Moscow this spring with the participation of the Minsk Group co-chairs has been dedicated to this.The co-chairs have also recently discussed the issue of changing captives with the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Mauer in Geneva. As it’s known, on June 28 this year, Azerbaijani citizen E. Ibrahimov and Z. Karapetyan returned to their homeland. We believe that this kind of practice should continue. Moreover, this is in line with the Astrakhan Declaration adopted by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia in 2010. We are working with the parties on this issue.”

Recall that in April, 2016, The State Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons offered to the Armenian Republic the releasing prisoners of war and hostages based on the “all to all” principle and returning prisoners of wars and hostages, at the same time their dead bodies not late than 3 days with the mediation of the international organizations.

“However, in recent media it has been noted that the Azerbaijani side is not ready for a mutual exchange of Armenian soldiers – citizens of the Armenian Republic Karen Ghazaryan, arrested for terrorist provocations in the territory of the Azerbaijan Republic, and Araik Ghazaryan, who voluntarily surrendered to the Azerbaijani army in the Fizuli direction of the front with Dilgam Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev captured in 2014 and illegally convicted in the Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan occupied by the Armenian side.

The State Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons once again states that the principal position of the Republic of Azerbaijan regarding the release of hostages in the “all to all” format has been repeatedly conveyed to the opposite side at the meetings of Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders, as well as foreign ministers, as well as discussions held by State Commission with the relevant international organizations in 2017 and 2018 through mediation co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.

The State Commission on September 11, 2019, once again informed the relevant international organizations about the readiness of the Azerbaijani side to exchange Dilgam Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev with Karen Kazaryan and Araik Kazaryan.

The State Commission once again informs that Azerbaijan always complies with the norms and principles of international humanitarian law, considers the exchange of prisoners in the “all to all” format between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, held on September 7, 2019, as a manifestation of high humanity, and in accordance with this example of humanism, once again declares that it is a supporter of the speedy release of hostages and prisoners between Azerbaijan and Armenia on the same principle,” reads the statement.

Notably, Azerbaijani civilians Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev were taken hostage by the armed forces of Armenia during their visit to their native lands and graves of their parents in the occupied Kelbajar region of Azerbaijan. Hasan Hasanov who was with them during the hostage-taking, was killed. His body was brought to Azerbaijan and buried. December 10, illegal court of the separatist regime in the Nagorno-Karabakh sentenced Dilgam Asgarov to life in prison and Shahbaz Guliyev to 22 years of “detention”.

Armenia’s defense minister Davit Tonoyan does not exclude the possibility of Azerbaijan’s proposal on the exchange of Armenian servicemen with Dilgam Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev.

Armenia’s Prime Minister’s spokesperson Vladimir Karapetyan told they are aware of the proposal and is discussing the proposal.