ArmInfo. Moscow, Tbilisi, Brussels and Washington welcome the return of Armenian prisoners of war in exchange for maps of minefields. Thus, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, responding to the message about the return of prisoners of war, in particular, wrote: "Azerbaijan handed over 15 prisoners of war to Armenia in exchange for maps of minefields. Long-awaited and great news. We welcome such steps>.
Charles Michel, President of the European Council, expressed his support to the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in connection with the return of prisoners. "I applaud Azerbaijan and Armenia's parallel humanitarian gestures - releases of detainees and the transfer of a map of minefields. This is the first step towards renewing confidence. The EU has supported this process and will continue to offer assistance to enhance progress, "he wrote on his official Twitter page. The Georgian government also welcomed the decision of Azerbaijan and Armenia to return prisoners of war in exchange for maps of minefields.
<With the active mediation of the Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili and acting US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker, the Azerbaijani side released 15 Armenian citizens detained during the conflict. Georgia is ready in the future, if necessary, to help partners and actively participate in solving humanitarian issues, first of all, "the Georgian government said in a statement. "The Prime Minister of Georgia welcomes this decision of the neighboring countries, which should lay the foundation for reducing tensions in the region and creating an atmosphere of cooperation in the long term. Georgia attaches great importance to peace, stability and cooperation in the region. We hope that the step taken by Georgia will give an important impetus to reduce tensions between neighbors, "the Georgian government said in a statement. The US Department of State also made a statement, noting in particular: "The United States welcomes the release by Azerbaijan of 15 detained Armenians and their return home to their families in Armenia. We also welcome Armenia's decision to provide Azerbaijan with important information that will facilitate humanitarian demining and avoid future casualties. We are grateful to Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and the Georgian government for the important role that Georgia has played in facilitating these steps, which bring the peoples of the region closer to the peaceful and prosperous future they deserve.
The United States is pleased to support these steps and hopes that they will lay the foundation for additional cooperation. We continue to call for the return of all detainees and stand ready to assist the countries of the region in their efforts to continue cooperation to resolve outstanding issues between them. We also continue to call on Armenia and Azerbaijan to resume substantive negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs for a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict. " As ArmInfo previously reported, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reported that on June 12, the Azerbaijani side handed over 15 Armenian prisoners to Armenia in exchange for providing Armenia with maps of minefields, where the location of 97,000 anti-tank and anti-personnel mines in the Aghdam region was recorded. The exchange was held at the Azerbaijani-Georgian border with the participation of representatives of Georgia.
"We appreciate the support of the Georgian government headed by the Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili in carrying out this humanitarian action. At the same time, we emphasize the role of the acting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the head, Philip Reeker, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs; Charles Michel, President of the EU Council; and the Swedish OSCE Chairmanship. Obtaining mine maps will save the lives and health of tens of thousands of our citizens, including demining specialists, and accelerate reconstruction projects initiated by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, in Aghdam and the return of internally displaced persons, "the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Immediately after this statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the information was confirmed by the acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the names of the returned Armenians were published. It is worth noting that more than two hundred Armenian prisoners of war and civilians continue to be illegally held in Azerbaijani captivity. According to point 8 of the trilateral statement of the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia of November 9, 2020, all prisoners of war were to be released immediately and without preconditions. Meanwhile, against the background of the inaction of the international community, Azerbaijan continues to speculate on these issues and receive dividends.