Azerbaijan is trying to make the issue of the return of Armenian captives a subject of trade, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan said at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, Clingendael, in response to the question of the meeting participants.
“Unfortunately, despite the 2020 November 9 statement and calls of numerous international organizations, our citizens who were captured during the 44-day war have not been returned, which cannot be understood. This is a practice of using people for political purposes and making them a subject of trade, which is condemnable”, the PM said.
Pashinyan said that when the topic of captives was touched upon, Azerbaijan tried to make it a subject of trade for exchanging them with the maps of minefields that the Armenian side had. “And when we saw that an attempt is made to exchange people with maps, we made a political decision that doing trade is out of the logic of our values. Azerbaijan was claiming that every day people are being killed on the minefields left during the war, it was releasing numbers, and I personally made a political decision that this trade must not take place, and we handed over all our maps to Azerbaijan, with the hope that the humanitarian step will be followed by a humanitarian step. After that Azerbaijan started announcing that those maps are not so correct. We said it’s not that we kept the good maps and gave the bad ones to you, that’s what we have. And they tried to make this a subject of speculation as well, but they didn’t notice one thing that after the exchange of the maps, the information on the killing of citizens from mine explosion has disappeared from their newsfeed”, the PM said.
Pashinyan stated that the Armenian side did this to show its sincerity in the peace agenda, its dedication to the peace agenda.
“Till today at least 38 of our captives are held in Azerbaijan. An attempt is made to regularly make this process a subject of trade on different topics. By the way, the last time it was at the presence of the President of the European Council that the Azerbaijani leader promised that he will release another group of captives, but this has not happened so far. I think that it’s impossible to talk about peace by ignoring the humanitarian side of the issue, we have shown this in practice”, the Armenian PM noted.
He stressed the need for the international community to know about this situation. Pashinyan called on the international community to continue urging Azerbaijan not to make people a subject of political trade.
“The war has brought tragedy to many, but I don’t think that the approach of constantly pouring salt on that open wound fits into the value system that is typical to the 21st century”, Nikol Pashinyan said.