BAKU, March 15. /TASS/. In accordance with its obligations Azerbaijan has released all prisoners of war to the Armenian side, Foreign Minister Ceyhun Bayramov told a news briefing following talks with Sweden’s visiting Foreign Minister, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ann Linde.
"Azerbaijan’s stance on this issue is very open and clear. In accordance with the trilateral statement [of November 9 last year] we released to the Armenian side all those taken prisoner during the military operations [in Karabakh] and before it," Bayramov said.
He stressed that Azerbaijan had begun to release prisoners of war earlier than Armenia, when the hostilities were still in progress.
As for the Armenian military personnel Azerbaijan was still holding at the moment, Bayramov said they could not be regarded as prisoners of war, because they were detained not during combat operations.
"These people were apprehended much later, when the combat operations had ended and a trilateral statement was signed already. To be more precise, on November 26, 2020. They had been drafted into the army in the Shirak region of Armenia and sent to Karabakh, where they committed crimes resulting in the death of Azerbaijani military servicemen and civilians. They continue to be investigated," Bayramov said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on November 9 last year signed a joint statement on the complete cessation of hostilities in Karabakh. Under the arrangement, the Azerbaijani and Armenian forces stopped at the positions they were holding at the moment. A number of districts was transferred to Baku’s control and Russian peacekeepers were deployed along the engagement line and the Lachin corridor. On January 11, Putin, Aliyev and Pashinyan met in Moscow again. A joint statement was signed on the creation of a trilateral working group at the deputy prime minster level for unblocking all economic relations and transport links in the region.