Since the signing of the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020, Azerbaijan has continuously abused the issue of repatriation of prisoners of war in order to achieve political gains. Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan stated this in his address during Friday’s regular meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member countries.
"In the post-war period, Azerbaijan linked the release of prisoners of war to the issuance of maps of minefields, although the obligation arising from the trilateral statement was the exclusive exchange of all prisoners. Armenia provided Azerbaijan, but it was a gesture on our part, with all the maps of the minefields we had. After receiving all the maps of the minefields, Azerbaijan claimed that the accuracy of these maps was only 25%. Armenia has expressed its readiness to verify this statement with the involvement of international experts. On the other hand, even if this statement is true, the Republic of Armenia has handed over all its maps to Azerbaijan and does not have any "better or more accurate" maps left for itself.
Now after receiving the maps, Azerbaijan is trying to condition the return of POWs, prisoners of war and other detainees on finding out the fate of those who went missing as a result of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. I would like to note that after the First and Second Nagorno-Karabakh wars, there were also people missing from the Armenian side. 777 people are still missing from the first war, and 217 people are missing from the second war, including 196 servicemen and 21 civilians. During our meetings at the beginning of this year Armenia expressed its readiness for full cooperation on the whole spectrum of the problem of the missing and has already unilaterally handed over several burial maps and, after the 44-day war, over a hundred remains of the victims of the First Nagorno-Karabakh war.
Unfortunately, the Azerbaijani side, which had rejected proposals for cooperation on demining or any other humanitarian activity for 30 years, remembered about its missing citizens or mines only after the aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh and after the whole civilized world began to talk about war crimes committed by the Azerbaijani military or about the Armenian prisoners of war illegally held hostage in Azerbaijan. Without going into details, this fact alone clearly shows the true intentions of Azerbaijan.
In this context I would like to stress that so far Azerbaijan has been preventing the removal of the bodies of those killed during the last aggression, and the bodies of several of our guys continue to be in the inter-positioning zones, which are on the sovereign territory of Armenia. There is an agreement today or tomorrow to organize the removal of bodies. I hope this agreement will be implemented," he said.