YEREVAN, July 6. /TASS/. At least 45 Armenian nationals taken prisoner both during the recent hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, and as a result of an incident on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border are still being kept by the Azerbaijani side, Yegishe Kirakosyan, a spokesman for Armenia’s mission to the European Court of Human Rights, said on Tuesday.
"As for the number of prisoners, today, if we subtract the latest 15 released persons, we will have 45 confirmed prisoners. But, according to our information and witnesses, the number of those in captivity is much bigger," he said.
On July 3, Azerbaijan released 15 Armenian citizens in exchange for maps of minefields in the Fizuli and Zangilan regions adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh. The operation was mediated by Russia.
Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, 2020, with intense battles raging in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. On November 9, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint statement on a complete ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Under the document, the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides stopped at the positions that they had held, and Russian peacekeepers were deployed along the engagement line in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachinsky corridor that connects Armenia with the enclave to exercise control of the ceasefire observance. Apart from that, a number of districts came over to Baku’s control. The document also specifies prisoner exchange under the all-for-all formula.
Armenia has been demanding that Azerbaijan release all Armenian prisoners and detained persons. Yerevan has repeatedly stressed that the return of the prisoners of war is the number one issue while discussing further settlement of the situation in the region. Baku, in turn, insists that all Armenian nationals taken prisoner during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh last autumn have already been released, and it keeps only "terrorists and saboteurs".