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Armenian News - NEWS.am presents the daily digest of Armenia-related top news as of 14.06.21:

•             15 Armenian prisoners of war have been handed over by Azerbaijan.

Acting PM Nikol Pashinyan thanks U.S., Georgian, and EU partners for playing a role in ensuring the return of 15 Armenian POWs from Azerbaijani captivity.

Pashinyan also confirmed reports that the Armenian side handed over maps of some minefields to the Azerbaijani side

“Two days ago I had a meeting with acting U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker, who said he had been instructed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to ensure a breakthrough in the return of Armenian captives,” he said.

The United States welcomes the release by Azerbaijan of 15 Armenian 'detainees' and their return to their families in Armenia, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“We also welcome Armenia’s decision to provide Azerbaijan with important information that will facilitate humanitarian demining and avoid future casualties,” Blinken added.

PACE Rapporteur on the humanitarian consequences of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Paul Gavan (Ireland) says he welcomes the news about the release of 15 Armenian prisoners of war and the transfer of a mine map of Aghdam to Azerbaijan.

“It is necessary to take steps to mitigate the humanitarian impact of this prolonged conflict that led to a six-week war last year,” Gavan said.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, also expressed his support for the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in connection with the return of prisoners.

"I applaud Azerbaijan’s & Armenia’s parallel humanitarian gestures - releases of detainees and maps of mined areas," he tweeted.

•             Another captured Armenian, Lebanese Armenian Vicken Euljekjian, was sentenced in Baku to 20 years in prison, according to Azerbaijani media.

He was accused of “terrorist activities.”

According to a Baku court decision, he will spend five years in prison, and the rest—in a correctional facility.

Ignoring all calls from the international community, the Azerbaijani authorities continue to illegally detain Armenian captives and put them on trial.

•             The accreditation of NEWS.am Sport correspondent Davit Yeghiazaryan and the other Armenian sports journalists to the 16th European Football Championship (Euro 2020)—which was postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic—in 11 cities of 11 countries has been suspended.

On May 20, UEFA had confirmed in an official letter that Yeghiazaryan had been accredited to cover Euro 2020. However, two days after the start of this competition, UEFA announced that the accreditation was not confirmed by the decision of the police of one of the organizing countries. Presumably, it was with the intervention of the organizing committee of Azerbaijan.

The NEWS.am Sport correspondent had applied to UEFA only to cover the six group-stage matches scheduled for Saint Petersburg, Russia.

The Football Federation of Armenia is currently working to resolve issues.

•             A telephone conversation between the acting Minister of Territorial Administration and Development of Armenia, Suren Papikyan, and the mayor of Etchmiadzin city, Dianna Gasparyan, is going viral on the Internet.

In the phone talks, Gasparyan complains about acting PM Nikol Pashinyan, stating that he must step down for the sake of the state.

"Let them choose someone [else] from the team, let them choose you. He has already gone [in the head]; his psyche cannot stand [it anymore]," she added.

In response, Papikyan urges her to keep calm.

•             The observations of the Electoral Rights Watch initiative show that the ruling Civil Contract Party systematically engages children in its election campaign ahead of the snap parliamentary elections in Armenia on June 20.

"We consider this process to be contrary to the rights of children and illegal, and call the attention of the competent state and public, as well as international organizations to the issue," the statement read.

•             During a meeting with US President Joe Biden, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan intends to raise the White House’s recognition of the Armenian massacres by the Ottoman Empire as the Armenian Genocide.

Erdogan announced his intention during his trip to Brussels, adding that the White House’s decision frustrated Turkey, Reuters reports.

Erdogan also plans to discuss the US government’s pledges regarding the F-35 and Patriot defense systems, as well as Turkey’s renunciation of the Russian S-400, Ahval news agency reports.

•             As of Thursday morning, 41 new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Armenia, and the total number of these cases has reached 223,723 in the country.

Also, four more deaths from COVID-19 were registered, making the respective total 4,488 cases.

The number of people who have recovered over the past one day is 33, the total respective number so far is 215,228.

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