Plane allegedly returning PoWs from Baku lands empty in Yerevan
PoWs not returned home to Armenia
In Armenia on the evening of April 8, the return of Armenian prisoners of war, who after the end of the second Karabakh war, are still in Azerbaijan, was expected.
The information about the return of the group of prisoners was confirmed by the press secretary of the Prime Minister Mane Gevorgyan.
Relatives of the prisoners of war gathered at the Erebuni airport in Yerevan awaiting the arrival of the plane from Baku, although no one knew how many people would be brought from Azerbaijan and who they were.
After a long wait, it became known that the plane had arrived in Yerevan empty – no prisoners were returned.
Disappointed parents headed from the airport directly to the building of the Ministry of Defense in Yerevan.
They joined the rally of the relatives of missing servicemen, who blocked all entrances and exits of the military department. And in the morning, the relatives of the prisoners of war blocked the Gyumri-Yerevan and Gyumri-Vanadzor highways.
The last time the exchange of prisoners between Armenia and Azerbaijan took place on February 9. Then, five Armenian prisoners of war returned to their homeland. In total, since the end of the second Karabakh war, 63 prisoners, including civilians, returned to Armenia. Armenia has returned 15 PoWs.
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What happened at the airport
After a long wait at the Erebuni airport, dozens of relatives and the friends of prisoners of war began to complain that none of the officials came to them and did not provide any information.
And when there were rumors that the plane had arrived in Yerevan empty, the situation escalated sharply. The protesters demanded that the journalists working at the site stop broadcasting and turn off the cameras.
Then official information came from the office of the Deputy Prime Minister that the plane had indeed arrived empty:
“Unfortunately, the return of prisoners is again postponed, since the 8th paragraph of the tripartite statement of November 9 [2020 on the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh] is not being implemented by the adversary, which is a gross violation of the post-war humanitarian process.
Negotiations with the mediation of the Russian side are continuing. And we hope that the Azerbaijani side will ultimately respect the signed statement and fulfill the humanitarian agreement.”
Some of the relatives went straight from the airport to the building of the Ministry of Defense and joined the protest of the parents of missing military servicemen, who closed all the entrances and entrances of the building of the military department since the morning of April 8. They are not being dispersed, the ministry building is still blocked.
Political observer Hakob Badalyan believes:
“Aliyev would not have made such a cynical demarche against Putin if he did not have stronger support. It is clear that he is supported by his leader, Erdogan. I think that if we are not talking about a joint game with Putin, where Pashinyan is beaten by Aliyev’s hands, then Aliyev is beating Putin at Erdogan’s instructions.
It is noteworthy that the situation with prisoners changes at the so-called last moment. […] Did Putin manage to reach agreements during his talks with Pashinyan and Aliyev, into which Erdogan intervened at the last moment?
Lacking reliable information about the motives for these actions, we, of course, can only consider possible situations. Including the fact that, having created a problem for Putin in the Caucasus, Erdogan can count on receiving certain steps from him in solving his problems in other directions. A fresh direction is, for example, the aggravating situation in Ukraine”.
According to political scientist, orientalist Sergei Melkonyan, until all the prisoners are returned, “Yerevan should not sign any obligations on the issue of communications.” The expert speaks about the point of the trilateral statement on unblocking the tracks and building a transit road linking Azerbaijan with its exclave Nakhichevan:
“For some reason, the Secretary of the Security Council and the young deputies from the ruling regime [of Armenia] are most worried about ‘good-neighborly relations with Turkey’, ‘the future face of the region’. At this time, Baku is using prisoners for blatant blackmail in order to force the capitulating leadership to comply with their demands (with which, by and large, they themselves generally agree).
The creation of the Meghri corridor [which can connect Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan] does not meet the interests of either Armenia or Artsakh. Those who think otherwise are either promoting the Turkish-Azerbaijani agenda, or banal ignoramuses. In this regard, the participation of Yerevan in this process against the background of the retention of prisoners is a betrayal of state interests.
It is possible that a “gift” in the form of returning a part of the prisoners to Nikol’s regime will be presented before the elections in order to increase his rating. Since, apart from him and his incompetent team of amateurs, who in reality turned out to be traitors to interests, no one is ready to capitulate on all issues.”
Political observer Hayk Khalatyan believes:
“Pashinyan was once again publicly disgraced. Our authorities complain that Baku does not fulfill the terms of the November 9 agreement, but at the same time obediently fulfill its terms, in particular, they are negotiating to unblock communications, at the same time promoting the delights of friendship and cooperation with Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Although, in order to return, it was simply necessary not to fulfill the “oral agreements” on the surrender of territories, not to return the two murderers [Azerbaijanis Shahbaz Guliyev and Dilham Askerov convicted in NK] until all our prisoners were returned. And the most important thing is not to sign a new statement on January 11 without mentioning the issue of prisoners, although before the flight to Moscow, Pashinyan argued that the issue of prisoners was a priority for him and without its solution other issues would not be resolved, in particular, unblocking roads.”