YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia on February 23 again accused Azerbaijan of “artificially” delaying the release of Armenian soldiers and civilians remaining in Azerbaijani captivity more than three months after a Russian-brokered ceasefire stopped the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The ceasefire agreement calls for the unconditional release of all prisoners held by the conflicting sides. Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in Karabakh have arranged several prisoner swaps over the last two months.
A total of 64 Armenian prisoners of war (POWs) and civilians have been freed to date. More than 100 others are believed to remain in Azerbaijani captivity.
Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazyan said Baku’s reluctance to free them constitutes a serious violation of the truce agreement and hampers the resumption of Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.
“We are committed to the resumption of the settlement process but there must first and foremost be formed an environment conducive to peace. Prerequisites for that are not yet visible on the Azerbaijani side,” he said at a meeting with members of a standing committee of the Armenian parliament.
Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Ayvazyan said that Baku is facing growing international pressure to release the remaining Armenian prisoners.