Baku, Azerbaijan, July 18
By Sabina Ahmadova - Trend:
European Union is closely following the issue of Azerbaijanis taken hostage by Armenians in the Kalbajar District, the EU press service told Trend on July 18.
It should be noted that the Kalbajar District of Azerbaijan has been under Armenian occupation since April 2, 1993.
"Circumstances regarding the citizens detained are still unclear for us," the EU press service said, adding that the matter needs to be checked with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), because the ICRC is looking into the case specifically.
"They have more information than we have. We are following this closely. At the moment we don't have any clarity," the press service noted.
Earlier, Armenian media reported that the Armenian forces, during an operation in the occupied Kalbajar District's Shaplar village, killed an Azerbaijani - Hasan Hasanov, and detained two other Azerbaijanis - Shahbaz Guliyev and Dilgam Asgarov. They also reported about the launching of criminal cases against the detained Azerbaijanis.
On July 15, the Azerbaijani State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing People said the fate of Azerbaijani citizens taken hostages in the Kalbajar District, is its priority.
Ilaha Huseynova, the Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Baku Office Communication Department told Trend on July 16 that the families of Azerbaijanis, taken hostage by Armenians in Kalbajar officially appealed to the ICRC.
She added that currently the ICRC continues talks with the parties on this matter.
Previously, it was reported that Azerbaijan appealed to the ICRC to clarify the media reports on the hostage-taking of Azerbaijani citizens by the Armenian side. The appeal contained a request to carry out the necessary procedures in accordance with the ICRC's mandate, in case if the information is confirmed.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry dismissed the Armenian media reports on affiliation of the mentioned persons to the country's armed forces.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan.
As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the U.S. are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.
Edited by CN