The European side, taking into account the interests of Azerbaijan, is trying to ensure the exchange of Azerbaijanis who crossed the border of Armenia for Armenian prisoners of war (POWs). Siranush Sahakyan, president of the International and Comparative Law Center, said this in an interview with Armenian News-NEWS.am.
After the tripartite meeting between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, European Council President Charles Michel, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev that was held on May 14 in Brussels, Michel had announced that several more detainees will be released in the coming weeks. He had added that he had emphasized the need to maintain mutual understanding on the matter of the soldiers who had gotten lost and crossed over to the other side will be released under an expedited procedure as before.
But according to Sahakyan, there is a misrepresentation of the facts and, in fact, the Azerbaijani point of view was presented unilaterally.
"There are no facts behind it, and the Armenian position is not reflected. I don't know why the evidence and the final theory were not brought out in comparison with the Armenian position. Maybe they are not aware of the Armenian position or, being aware, it was desirable to rely on the Azerbaijani point of view. Anyway, classic [Azerbaijani] criminals are presented as astray soldiers when at least one of these soldiers has also published a video and the crimes committed by them are substantiated by many evidences. As a rule, if astray servicemen find themselves under the control of the armed forces of another country due to weather or other conditions, they do not commit acts combined with hostile violence. In this case, we see that certain actions were carried out intentionally and violated such important values as life," Sahakyan said.
She stressed that the aforesaid theory will support the "exchange of Armenian prisoners of war with the strays" operation.
"I believe since they are working with Azerbaijan with very soft tools and have not provided any movement in the repatriation of prisoners of war in the last six months. The European side, taking into account the interests of Azerbaijan in terms of prisoners of war, is trying to ensure their exchange for prisoners of war.
"We have a precedent. First, in the [trilateral] statement of November 9,  such wording was given that the exchange was extended not only to prisoners of war, but also to those kept in custody on other grounds. The two Azerbaijanis sentenced to life imprisonment, who were serving their sentence in Shushi [city of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)], actually became part of that exchange. And there are prerequisites to be able to resolve—in exchange for the return of the two Azerbaijanis—the issue of the return of a limited number of Armenian prisoners of war through European mediation," Sahakyan noted.