Ara Aivazian: OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to visit region; Artsakh status to be clarified

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YEREVAN, January 28. /ARKA/. The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs from USA, Russia and France are expected to pay a visit to the region, Armenian Foreign Minister Ara Aivazian told reporters on Thursday.

“Recently, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs held a meeting. We are going to contact them soon and expect them to visit the region,” he said.

Aivazian noted that there are a set of key issues, one of which is the clarification of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.

‘In order to talk about stability, security and peace in the region, first of all, an atmosphere of trust must be created,’ Aivazian said.

“An atmosphere of trust is created if very important issues are resolved, first of all I mean the repatriation of all our prisoners of war and other detainees held in Azerbaijan. I believe that Azerbaijan should understand that this is a humanitarian issue. And if Azerbaijan keeps on trying to capitalize on this issue, I am sure that it will become a problem for it,” he said.

On December 14, 44 Armenian prisoners of war and other captivates were brought home by a Russian military plane from Azerbaijan and 12 Azerbaijani citizens were flown to Baku. Another four Armenian prisoners of war were repatriated on December 28 with the mediation of Russia and the International Committee of the Red Cross. So far, 54 Armenians, both civilians and soldiers, have been repatriated from Azerbaijani as part of exchanges between the two sides.

Armenia and Azerbaijan earlier agreed to “all for all” swap of POWs. However, more than two months after the fighting stopped, Azerbaijan still holds unknown dozens of Armenian prisoners of war. On September 27, 2020, Azerbaijani armed forces, backed by Turkey and foreign mercenaries and terrorists, attacked Nagorno-Karabakh along the entire front line using rocket and artillery weapons, heavy armored vehicles, military aircraft and prohibited types of weapons such as cluster bombs and phosphorus weapons.

After 44 days of the war, on November 9, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a statement on the cessation of all hostilities. According to the document, the parties stopped at where they were at that time. The town of Shushi, the districts of Agdam, Kelbajar and Lachin were handed over to Azerbaijan, with the exception of a 5-kilometer corridor connecting Karabakh with Armenia.

A Russian peacekeeping contingent was deployed along the contact line in Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor. Internally displaced persons and refugees are returning to Karabakh and adjacent regions, prisoners of war, hostages and other detained persons and bodies of the dead are being exchanged.

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