YEREVAN, June 12. /TASS/. The fifteen soldiers that Azerbaijan handed back to Armenia in exchange for maps of minefields have crossed the Armenian border and returned home, Armenia’s Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Saturday.
"I have just been informed that 15 minutes ago our captured brothers crossed the Armenian border and returned home," Pashinyan told his supported in the city of Gavar.
Pashinyan added that four of the 15 soldiers released by Azerbaijan on Saturday were from those who were taken prisoner in the Gegharkunik region in May.
Armenia’s Acting Prime has particularly thanked Russia’s political and military leadership for assistance in detainees' return.
"I especially thank Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, and Lieutenant General Rustam Muradov, the commander of peacekeepers, for their assistance in the return of Armenian prisoners of war. We will continue the process of our prisoners’ return. I would like to point out that we did not exchange prisoners for minefield maps, but responded to Azerbaijan’s step with a constructive step," Pashinyan said.
Earlier in the day, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry reported that 15 Armenian military personnel had returned to Armenia in exchange for maps of 97,000 anti-personnel and anti-tank mines planted in the Aghdam region. The ministry added that the exchange took place on the Azerbaijani-Georgian border in the presence of Georgian representatives.
On May 27, Azerbaijan reported that six Armenian soldiers had been taken captive while they were attempting to cross the border for an act of sabotage. Yerevan confirmed this fact, but emphasized that the troops were engaged in the engineering work in the border area of Armenia’s Gegharkunik region.
After the end of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh last autumn, Baku regained control of seven areas adjacent to Karabakh, including the Aghdam region, in accordance with the November 10 trilateral agreement. Demining of the areas affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains a major post-war issue for Baku and Yerevan.