No way sabotage-terrorist group members can be considered POWs - Azerbaijani MFA (INTERVIEW) Update

Details added, first version posted on 09:16

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Mar. 4

Trend's interview with Spokesperson for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Leyla Abdullayeva

Recently, the Armenian side has been making statements, claiming that Azerbaijan allegedly does not fulfill its obligations under paragraph 8 of the Trilateral Statement of November 10, and also requires the exchange of prisoners of war. At times, officials from other countries also raise this issue...

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan responded to the completely groundless statements of the Armenian side and its patrons in connection with the issue you mentioned, and I want to reiterate that the Republic of Azerbaijan remains committed to the obligations specified in the trilateral statement of November 10, 2020 [between Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia] and takes appropriate steps to fully implement them.

This issue has been repeatedly commented on at the highest level. It should be noted that the Azerbaijani side, having shown particular sensitivity in the exchange of prisoners of war, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 8 of the trilateral statement of November 10, returned to the opposite side a total of 71 Armenian citizens, including 43 military and 28 civilians taken prisoner during the war.

Regarding the question about of "62 people" raised by the Armenian side, as you know, the members of this sabotage-terrorist group, sent by Armenia to the territory of Azerbaijan after the signing of the trilateral statement and intercepted as a result of the counter-terrorist operation of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, in no case can be considered prisoners of war. As a result of terrorist acts committed by the detained group, four Azerbaijani servicemen became martyrs and one civilian was seriously injured. Currently, this issue is being investigated.

As you know, the letter addressed by Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and circulated as a document of the UN General Assembly and Security Council contains detailed information on this.

Besides, I would like to say that the Azerbaijani side, adhering to the terms of the statement, creates the necessary conditions for the search and collection of the bodies of Armenian servicemen in liberated territories of Azerbaijan, as well as, together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Russian peacekeepers, provides assistance to the Armenian side. To date, 1,274 bodies that were found in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan have been handed over to Armenia.

Inflating the topic of exchange of prisoners of war amid all these facts, at the same time, the absence of international discussions on Armenia's refusal to provide a map of mined territories in violation of the norms of international humanitarian law indicates the existence of double standards. Since the end of hostilities to this day in the liberated territories, 18 people - 12 civilians and 6 servicemen - were blown up on mines. Moreover, 62 servicemen and 9 civilians received bodily injuries of varying severity.

The abovementioned facts clearly show that the Azerbaijani side, unlike Armenia, which, avoiding fulfilling its obligations in all possible ways, is committed to the obligations arising from the November 10 statement and is interested in ensuring peace in the region,

Recently, the Armenian Foreign Ministry issued a statement regarding the sending of personnel of the Armenian Armed Forces for military service to the territory of Azerbaijan. What measures are being taken to prevent such violations by the Armenian side?

As previously reported, international media - agencies operating in Armenia, including independent media, reported that after the signing of a joint statement between Azerbaijan and Armenia on November 10, 2020, which provides for the cessation of all hostilities, the personnel of the Armenian Armed Forces are involved in military activities in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan by deception or coercion, which caused protests both among the military and their families.

I would like to note that the deployment of Armenian servicemen in any form in the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan without their consent is an open violation of the norms and principles of international law, territorial integrity and inviolability of international borders, as well as the provisions of other international documents, of which Armenia itself is a supporter. Azerbaijan will not allow such illegal actions in its sovereign territories, and all necessary measures will be taken to prevent them.

On February 22, 2021, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, sent appeals with the attachment of relevant evidence to the UN, OSCE, NATO and Council of Europe secretaries, including the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, OSCE Chairman-in-Office, UN High Commissioner on human rights with a call to take measures within their competence regarding Armenia's failure to fulfill its obligations in accordance with international law and the tripartite statement, as well as to stop the deployment of its Armed Forces by Armenia on the territory of Azerbaijan and any actions and statements that impede the implementation of the tripartite statement.

Besides these appeals, we will continue to work through diplomatic channels to inform the international community about the illegal actions of the Armenian side.

I would like to stress once again that to ensure peace, stability, prosperity and sustainable economic development in the region, there is no other alternative than Armenia's full and honest fulfillment of all its obligations arising from international law, as well as joint statements of November 10, 2020 and January 11, 2021.

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