By Akbar Mammadov
Azerbaijan has always been committed to the return of hostages on the basis of the “all for all" principle, while Armenia constantly avoids this issue, Azerbaijani presidential aide, Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmat Hajiyev said at the press conference on May 13.
Hajiyev noted that during the pandemic, international organizations also emphasize the importance of exchange of prisoners of war.
“We consider the fact that the exchange of prisoners and hostages should be carried out during the coronavirus pandemic”, Hajiyev added.
He also stressed that unfortunately, Armenia does not show a constructive position on this issue and eschews it.
In November 2018, Azerbaijan proposed 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.
Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev who are IDPs from Azerbaijan's occupied Kalbajar region were detained by Armenian forces in 2014 while visiting their native places and graves of loved ones in Kalbajar, and were later sentenced to life imprisonment and to 22 years in jail respectively. A third Azerbaijani who was with them, Hasan Hasanov, was killed in the same operation.
According to the Azerbaijani State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing People as of January 1, 2020, so far, 3,889 people are missing, 3,622 of them are men and 267 - women. Some 3,170 servicemen, 719 civilians (71 children, 326 old people, 267 women) are among those missing.
The number of people taken prisoners and hostages reached 871 people (773 of them are men, 98 - women), including 604 servicemen and 267 civilians (29 children, 98 women, 112 old people). Some 1,480 prisoners of war and hostages were released including 1,123 men and 357 women. Some 378 servicemen and 1,102 civilians (224 children, 357 women, 225 old people) are among the released people.
Akbar Mammadov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AkbarMammadov97
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