Azerbaijan Frees 10 More Armenian Prisoners of War
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN — Azerbaijan said Sunday it had freed 10 more Armenian soldiers captured last month during fighting between the Caucasus arch foes.
“Azerbaijan, with mediation of the European Union, handed over 10 soldiers of Armenian origin” who had been captured on November 16, the Azeri committee in charge of prisoners of war said in a statement.
Baku said that the move was a result of a meeting between Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and European Council chief Charles Michel in Brussels on September 14.
“Warmly welcome Baku’s release of 10 Armenian detainees in follow up to discussions with @azpresident and @NikolPashinyan,” Michel wrote in a tweet on Sunday. “An important humanitarian gesture demonstrating the mutual will to strengthen confidence as discussed in Brussels. EU facilitated transfer to Yerevan.”
Azerbaijan had already handed over 10 prisoners to Yerevan on December 4, following Russia-mediated talks, in the first concrete sign of a decrease in tensions since last month’s fighting, which killed 13 people.
Those were the worst clashes along the shared border since a six-week war last year over Nagorno-Karabakh that claimed more than 6,500 lives.
At the end of that war, Armenia was forced to sign a Russian-brokered accord with Azerbaijan that saw it cede three districts around Karabakh that it had captured in the 1990s.
Ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and around 30,000 people died in the ensuing conflict.