By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Russia seeks to contribute to a worthy resolution of the Karabakh conflict and to ensure reliable security in South Caucasus region.
Russia advocates the exchange of prisoners on the principle of "all for all" to establish confidence in conflict zones, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference on April 30.
Lavrov noted that Russia always in all situations advocate an exhaustive humanitarian solution of such situations as the exchange of remains, the exchange of war prisoners held by individuals according to the principle of “all for all”.
Russian FM expressed confidence that this will contribute to establishing an atmosphere of trust in the conflict zone in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev have been kept hostage by Armenian militaries in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan for more than four years already. They were detained by the Armenian armed forces in July 2014 while visiting their native places and graves of loved ones in the occupied Azerbaijani Kalbajar region. Moreover, Armenian armed forces killed the third Azerbaijani Hasan Hasanov.
Later, Guliyev and Asgarov were judged illegally by the unrecognized courts of the separatist regime in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh. Following an expedited “judicial process” in December 2015, Asgarov was sentenced to life imprisonment and Guliyev to 22 years in prison.
Azerbaijan’s State Committee on Affairs of Refugees and IDPs, the State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons and other agencies have repeatedly urged international organizations, including the ICRC, to assist in release of Guliyev and Asgarov, whilst the problem.
In November 2018, Baku suggested the idea of exchanging prisoners according to the “all for all” scheme, proposing to exchange Armenian citizens Arsen Bagdasaryan, Karen Ghazaryan and Zaven Karapetyan for Russian citizen Dilgam Asgarov and Azerbaijani citizen Shahbaz Guliyev illegally convicted in occupied Karabakh.
Russia has a high degree of personal interest in resolving the conflict. Mediation for Russia continues to be one of the most important mechanisms of Russia's foreign policy activities in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The political leadership of Russia openly demonstrates the importance of ending the conflict in such a way that there will be no possibility of its escalation.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries arose in 1988 due to the territorial claims of Armenia against Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions - 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan - are under the occupation of the Armenian armed forces.
More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz