By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Head of Nagorno-Karabakh's Azerbaijani community Tural Ganjaliyev has called for the release of Azerbaijani hostages who were detained by Armenian forces in occupied Kalbajar back in 2014.
"The 'all for all' principle must be applied and hostages must be exchanged. This is the principle of international humanitarian law. Dilgam [Asgarov] and Shahbaz [Guliyev] must be freed. For this, the Azerbaijani state is taking all measures. We raise these issues at all international events in which we attend," Ganjaliyev told local media.
Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev who were illegally detained in the occupied Azerbaijani territories, must be transferred to the Azerbaijani side, the head of Azerbaijani community said, adding that Baku holds a clear position on this matter.
He further said Karabakh’s Azerbaijani community is always ready to meet with the region’s Armenian community for negotiations. However, Armenians repeatedly ignored the Azerbaijani community’s invitations for such negotiations during 2019.
“Unfortunately, no answer was given throughout the year. This suggests that the Armenian community [of Karabakh] depends on the illegal regime [set up by Yerevan]. It is quite possible that among community members there are those who want to co-exist with Azerbaijanis, but pressure is exerted on them,” Ganjaliyev stated.
He noted that after the Azerbaijani community urged the Armenian community to negotiate, mutual visits of journalists took place, but the Armenian side made a show out of it and started to make provocative statements.
"This means that the representatives of the illegal regime, leadership of occupant Armenia aren’t interested in negotiations,” he concluded.
Furthermore, Ganjaliyev touched upon Karabakh schools established in various diaspora centers and under the Azerbaijani embassies abroad.
“The activity of schools (special centers, established to educate children) is aimed at conveying to the Azerbaijanis living abroad the historical truth about Karabakh, educating and enlightening young people and children in the spirit of patriotism,” Ganjaliyev said.
Note that in 2014, two IDPs from Azerbaijan's occupied Kalbajar region - Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev - were detained by Armenian forces while visiting their native places and graves of loved ones in Kalbajar. A third Azerbaijani who was with them, Hasan Hasanov, was killed in the same operation. Asgarov and Guliyev were later persecuted by the courts in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh regime and sentenced to life imprisonment and to 22 years in jail respectively.
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.
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 Nagorno-Karabakh.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries arose in 1988 due to Armenia’s territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan lost Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions in the war that lasted till 1994. Over one million Azerbaijanis were displaced as a result of the war.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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