Return of POWs Emphasized During OSCE Chair’s Visit

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ann Linde with Armenia's Foreign Minister Ara Aivazyan on March 16 in Yerevan
OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ann Linde with Armenia's Foreign Minister Ara Aivazyan on March 16 in Yerevan

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ann Linde with Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ara Aivazyan on March 16 in Yerevan

‘At this stage it’s important to show respect to international humanitarian law,’ says OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ann Linde

The return of Armenian prisoners of war being held by Azerbaijan and more robust role for the Minsk Group co-chairs were emphasized during a visit to Yerevan on Tuesday by the OSCE Chairperson in Office, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde.

“At this stage, it’s important to show respect to the international law, including the international humanitarian law,” said Linde who stressed that the situation in the region has significantly changed after the November 9 agreement, emphasizing the role the OSCE Minks Group co-chairs must place in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.

“As an OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, I welcome the work of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the efforts of our Personal Representative to find a long-lasting stable solution. Several issues still miss solutions. The OSCE and the international community as a whole have an important role in addressing the immediate situation and finding a way forward,” Linde said.

Aivazyan told Linde that four months after the November 9 agreement, Azerbaijan continued to inflict harm on hundreds of Armenians and their families.

“Unfortunately, Azerbaijan refuses to implement the trilateral statement as hundreds of Armenian POWs and civilian hostages remain in captivity. After four months of ceasefire, Azerbaijan continues to inflict suffering on hundreds of people and their family members subjecting them to physical and psychological duress. These unacceptable actions are stronger than hollow talks about peace and the end of the conflict,” Aivazyan told Linde, according to the foreign ministry press service.

“There should be no illusion that the use of force, accompanied by mass atrocities including ethnic cleansing and war crimes, can contribute to conflict resolution,” Aivazyan said. “The core issues of the Nagorno Karabakh peace process which have not been reflected in the trilateral statement, remain unresolved. Among them is the right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination which entails the issue of the status and territories of Nagorno Karabakh.”

After condemning Azerbaijan for use of force against Artsakh, as well as Turkey’s direct involvement in the conflict, Aivazyan spoke of Baku’s continued violations of international treatises and law.

“The transfer of thousands of foreign terrorist fighters and mercenaries from the Middle East to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone with direct engagement and coordination of Turkey, and their involvement in hostilities against the Armenians of Artsakh, was not only a violation of international law, but also a violation of the OSCE commitments,” said Aivazyan. “It set two dangerous precedents: the attempt to resolve the conflict through mass atrocities and use of force, and the widespread importing of terrorist fighters from other regions into the OSCE area of responsibility, which should be unequivocally condemned.”

The foreign minister said that a final political solution to the conflict must take place with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen.

“The recent developments in the region have underscored the need for a strong OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship, which will be able to lead the peace process on the basis of principles and elements developed over the years. We also need a strong, cohesive OSCE as an institution responsible for regional security and peace. In this context, we attach importance to the role of the OSCE Chairmanship, including the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office,” said Aivazyan.

Linde also met with Artsakh’s Foreign Minister David Babayan, who was in Yerevan on Tuesday.

Babayan told visiting OSCE leader about the importance of resuming the Minsk Group co-chairs mediation efforts, and find a solution to Azerbaijan’s delays in returning Armenian POWs.

Babayan said that it was unacceptable to used the suffering of people, both those who are in captivity and their relatives, as a political bargaining chip and called on Linde to exert all necessary efforts to ensure that Azerbaijan unequivocally complies with its obligations under international humanitarian law.

President Armen Sarkissian and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also emphasized the same priorities during separate meetings with Linde.

President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian received the delegation led by Foreign Minister of Sweden, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ann Linde.

Sarkissian said Armenia anticipates that its international partners will assist in finding a solution to the POW issue.

In his turn, Pashinyan emphasized the role the OSCE must play in finding solutions to the many unresolved issues, including the status of Nagorno Karabakh, humanitarian matters, protection of the rights of the Armenian people of Artsakh and preserving its cultural heritage, as well as the return of POWs and captives.


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