Pashinyan reminds Putin that scores of Armenian POWs and other detains still held in Azerbaijan

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YEREVAN, April 7. /ARKA/. At a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin today in Moscow Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan raised the issue of Armenian prisoners of war and other detainees still held in Azerbaijan after the end of the war in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone contrary to “all for all” swap agreement reached last November by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.

Pashinyan said that according to the November 9 statement, signed by the leaders of the three countries to end the hostilities, all hostages, prisoners of war and other detainees were to be returned to their homeland. ‘But, unfortunately, we still have people held in Azerbaijan,” he said.

The prime minister noted that he was very glad that the Russian and Armenian sides have no differences regarding the solution of this issue. According to him, it is also very important that the points of view on the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem be discussed, since it has not been resolved.

Pashinyan noted that today’s agenda of the meeting is quite rich and includes, among other things, strategic issues.

“First of all, I would like to note that the presence of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh is becoming a major factor of stability and security in the region. And I hope today to discuss with you your views on the architecture of the security system in our region, in Nagorno-Karabakh, around it, in Armenia and in general in our region,” he said.

Armenian Prime Minister expressed hope that some nuances of the activities of the Russian-Armenian united group of forces will be discussed.

“We also have a unified regional air defense system, and there are some nuances that I hope we will be able to clarify today. Once again I want to appreciate your personal contribution to stabilization in our region, especially after the war, signing our joint statement with you and the President Azerbaijan, “he said.

The number of Armenian POWs still in custody in Azerbaijan remains unclear. By the end of February 2021, Armenia’s Representative Office at the European Court of Human Rights had asked the court to intervene with Azerbaijan regarding 240 cases of alleged prisoners of war and civilian detainees. In approximately 90 percent of those cases, the office said, they had provided photo and/or video evidence confirming that Azerbaijani forces had taken these people into custody.

Armenia’s leadership said that Azerbaijan has returned 69 POWs and civilians. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that his government has returned all the POWs to Armenia but was still holding approximately 60 people as terrorism suspects. Human Rights Watch is not in a position to verify the claims by Azerbaijan or Armenia about the numbers of people remaining in custody or their status.

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