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Top Armenian diplomat says Armenian heritage destroyed in Nagorno-Karabakh district

He also again emphasized that Azerbaijan is still "withholding Armenian prisoners of war"

YEREVAN, March 16. /TASS/. Armenian Foreign Minister Ara Aivazian has revealed that Armenian heritage is being destroyed in Nagorno-Karabakh’s Hadrut District, noting that it inhibits efforts to establish long-lasting peace in the region.

"The destruction of Armenian heritage in [Nagorno] Karabakh’s Hadrut District and creation of Azerbaijani residential communities there cannot serve as a basis to establish long-lasting peace in the region," he said Tuesday at a press conference with Ann Linde, Foreign Minister of Sweden, current chair of the OSCE.

He also again emphasized that Azerbaijan is still "withholding Armenian prisoners of war."

Almost all of the Hadrut District and the town of Shusha, which were parts of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region in the Soviet times, were handed over to Azerbaijan in accordance with the joint statement signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on November 9, 2020 which ended hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone as renewed clashes erupted there on September 27, 2020. According to the statement, the Azerbaijani and Armenian armies maintain their positions, while several regions were handed over to Baku. Moreover, Russian peacekeepers were deployed along the line of engagement and the Lachin Corridor. Meanwhile, the provision eight of the statement mandates that the parties exchange prisoners under the ‘all-for-all’ principle.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up, but primarily populated by ethnic Armenians, broke out in February 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1992-1994, tensions boiled over and exploded into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and seven adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them.