YEREVAN, June 9. /TASS/. Armenia's acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has issued instructions to the government bodies concerned to address Azerbaijan with a proposal for swapping his son, Ashot, for the Armenian prisoners of war, who have been in Baku's custody since the hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh in the autumn of 2020.
"I have instructed our agencies concerned to officially address the Azerbaijani side with a statement my son is ready to go to Baku in the capacity of a hostage to be exchanged for our prisoners of war," Pashinyan said at a meeting with his supporters in the Mets Mantash community in the Shirak Region.
Earlier, on Tuesday, Pashinyan said he would agree to exchange his son for Armenian prisoners of war. He made this statement after Armenia's third president, Serzh Sargsyan, criticized the head of government for saying prisoners of war might wait for another month or two and challenged Pashinyan with a call for exchanging his son for Armenian soldiers.
Pashinyan's son Ashot said on his Facebook page he was ready to participate in such an exchange.
Situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border
After the cessation of hostilities in the area of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict last autumn, when Baku took over seven districts neighboring Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian-Azerbaijani border was drawn near the Syunik and Gegharkunik regions. Tensions surged up there on May 12. The Armenian Defense Ministry then said that the Azerbaijani military, on the pretext of "correcting the border", tried to carry out what was described as "certain works" in a border district of the Syunik Region. Azerbaijani military personnel was reported to have ventured 3.5 kilometers into Armenian territory. The Defense Ministry said that after counter-measures taken by the Armenian forces the Azerbaijani military stopped these works.
Nevertheless, both parties continue to report more border incidents. On May 27, Azerbaijan said it had taken prisoner six Armenian soldiers when they tried to cross the border for committing an act of sabotage. The Armenian side confirmed the very instance of its military servicemen being taken prisoner but at the same time stressed that they had been conducting engineering work within the border zone of the Gegharkunik Region of Armenia.
Armenia's early election
Amid the political crisis that developed in Armenia last November, the head of government and the leaders of parliamentary parties agreed on holding early elections. President Armen Sarkisyan scheduled the elections for June 20. The head of government Nikol Pashinyan and his Cabinet of Ministers will continue to perform their duties until the election.
One of Pashinyan's main rivals, experts say, will be Robert Kocharyan, who has teamed up with the leaders of the parties Dashnaktsutyun and Reviving Armenia, Ishkhan Sagatelyan and Vage Akopyan. Serzh Sargsyan's Republican Party has created a bloc with the Motherland party of the former chief of Armenia's national security service, Artur Vanetsian. The parliamentary opposition - the parties Prospering Armenia and Enlightened Armenia - have declared their intention to participate in the elections on their own without entering into any coalitions.