The Armenian side did not immediately submit complete lists of prisoners of war kept in Azerbaijan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference on Monday. January 18.
Lavrov noted that the exchange of POWs is part of the agreement signed by Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan on the night of November 10.
“And this issue was discussed in subsequent telephone conversations of Russian President Vladimir Putin with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, as well as in my telephone conversations with the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia. And it was part of a fairly lengthy discussion when the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia arrived in Moscow on January 11,” Lavrov said․
The Russian foreign policy chief said prisoners of war from both sides who participated in hostilities and were captured before the statement of November 10 have been exchanged. He added that the sides are now working to settle “the question that arose in early December in Hadrut region.”
A group of more than 62 Armenians were taken captive near the villages of Khtsaberd and Hin Tagher in Hadrut, Karabakh, both settlements having remained under Armenian control after the war. The situation around the two villages came to a head when Azerbaijan launched new offensives to capture them on December 11, having seized most of the region of Hadrut during the war.
Lavrov said the Azerbaijani side at that stage stated that, “insofar as these people were sent into the area after the announcement of a ceasefire and տհե end of hostilities”, they should be considered separately, not as part of the November 10 statement.
“We, both President Putin and I, are still promoting the need to continue consideration of this issue in order to settle it, guided by the principle of “all for all”,” Lavrov added.
The first batch of 44 Armenian POWs returned from Azerbaijan in mid-December, although Armenian officials said many more people were being held in Baku. Dozens of others, both servicemen and civilians, have been captured after the completion of military hostilities. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said in one of his speeches that the newly detained persons are not prisoners of war but “terrorists”. Human rights lawyer Siranush Sahakyan has said, meanwhile, that at least 120 Armenian prisoners of war are being held in Azerbaijan. Sahakyan represents the rights of some of the Karabakh POWs before the European Court of Human Rights. The lawyer said there is enough evidence proving the capture of said persons, which the Armenian side will submit to international agencies and courts.