15 Armenian POWs were released by Azerbaijan on June 12 in exchange for Armenia providing “maps of 97,000 anti-tank and anti-personnel mines in the Aghdam region,”
according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan. “We appreciate the support of the Georgian government headed by the Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili for the implementation of this humanitarian action,” said the Ministry in the official statement, while “especially noting” the mediating role of the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 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 “for their contribution to the process.”
"Our brothers returned to their families thanks to the efforts of Georgia's Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, our Georgian brothers as well as our partners from the US and EU," Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan told journalists.
It is noteworthy that, unlike in previous similar events, the Russian Federation was not involved in the latest POW-related negotiations.
The humanitarian action was also welcomed by the U.S. Department of State, which expressed gratitude for Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili‘s involvement in the process and underscored “the essential role Georgia played in facilitating these steps, which bring the people of the region closer to the peaceful and prosperous future they deserve.”
The President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili praised Georgia’s role in the process, stating “Georgia is back on its historic mediator role, US and EU are back in the Caucasus, building confidenc[e] is the path to lasting peace.”
Both Azerbaijani and Armenian forces planted mines in the early 1990s. Seven Azerbaijani troops and 18 civilians have died and 110 more have been wounded by landmines in and near Nagorno-Karabakh since the cease-fire, the Azerbaijani government has said. Recently, three Azerbaijani citizens, among them two journalists, have been killed by landmines in Azerbaijan's Kalbajar district. More Armenian POWs are said to remain detained by Azerbaijan.