YEREVAN. – I have said that in case of coming to power, our primary issues will be two: Quick restoration of our security system and ensuring border protection, and secondly, the resolution of the issue of the return of captives. Artur Vanetsyan, the candidate for prime minister of the "I Have Honor" bloc of Armenia and the leader of the opposition Homeland party, stated this during a press conference on Wednesday, and referring to his well-known statement that he can have all the Armenian captives in Azerbaijan returned within three days.
"After my well known statement, there were manipulations, they said, 'If you can resolve the issue of the captives in three days, why don’t you resolve [it]?' But we have said that if we have power, we can act on behalf of the state, use the levers of the state, then yes, we are able to return the captives in 2-3 days.
You saw that in the last week of the [snap parliamentary] election campaign, [acting PM] Nikol Pashinyan had a group of 15 captives returned on the condition of exchange with mine[field] maps. Now, if they could give those maps to Azerbaijan and have the captives returned, why didn't they do it six months ago? Moreover, the Russian side made a statement to the press that when [Rustam] Muradov [commander of the Russian peacekeepers in the region] wanted those maps, the Armenian armed forces said that such maps do not exist in nature. Muradov had said he can return all the [Armenian] captives in Azerbaijan in exchange for those maps," he added.
Vanetsyan noted that the incumbent Armenian authorities did not try to resolve this issue completely, but only tried to increase their popularity rating at the moment. "If we [the ‘I Have Honor’ bloc] decide to go to the parliament [by accepting the National Assembly seats won in the elections], we will definitely use our capabilities and will deal with both the issue of [Armenian] captives [in Azerbaijan] and the issue of restoring the security system [of Armenia]," Artur Vanetsyan noted.