BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 12
Azerbaijan returned 15 detained Armenians back to Armenia with the participation of Georgian representatives on the Azerbaijani-Georgian border on June 12, 2021, in exchange for providing the Azerbaijani side with maps of 97,000 anti-tank and anti-personnel mines in Azerbaijan’s Aghdam district, liberated from Armenian occupation, Trend reports citing the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan.
"We appreciate the support of the Georgian government, led by the Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, in conducting this humanitarian action,” the ministry said. “At the same time, we emphasize the role of the head of the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker, President of the European Council Charles Michel and the Swedish chairmanship of the OSCE.”
“Receiving the minefield maps will save the lives and health of tens of thousands of our citizens, including demining specialists, and will accelerate the reconstruction projects initiated by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Aghdam and return of the IDPs," added the ministry.
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, Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations.
Following over a month of military action to liberate its territories from Armenian occupation from late Sept. to early Nov. 2020, Azerbaijan has pushed Armenia to sign the surrender document. A joint statement on the matter was made by the Azerbaijani president, Armenia's PM, and the president of Russia.
A complete ceasefire and a cessation of all hostilities in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were introduced on Nov. 10, 2020.
Following the liberation of its lands, Azerbaijan from Nov. 2020 started carrying out operations on clearing its lands from mines, booby traps, and various weapons left behind by the Armenian troops.