Azerbaijan releases 17 Armenian POWs after talks in Geneva
Following the fall of two ceasefires, Armenia and Azerbaijan are still conducting peace negotiations through arbitrations by the US in order to maintain stability in the region.
17 Armenian prisoners of war (POW) were freed Tuesday by Azerbaijan, as confirmed by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan through mediation by the US, days following peace talks between the neighboring nations.
Per customary international humanitarian law, prisoners of war are protected under the third 1949 Geneva Convention and must be released without delay after the cessation of hostilities.
Last month recorded the deaths of at least 286 people were killed on both sides which have witnessed an international armed conflict since 2020 over the common enclave Nagorno-Karabakh. On September 14 of this year, a ceasefire between the two countries went into effect after the September 13 ceasefire agreement collapsed right after it went into effect.
This is not the first time the contested Armenian-populated enclave of Azerbaijan was caught in a war; in January of 1990 a war broke out between the two nations which led to a ceasefire in 1994, but as of 2020, the conflict carried on.
Pashinyan tweeted on Tuesday: "I highly appreciate the efforts of the United States (in) assisting to return our 17 POW," expressing hope and anticipation for more "progress in resolving both humanitarian issues and establishing peace in the region".
The release of prisoners was mediated by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken after Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov met with Blinken on September 20 at the UNGA and the two conducted discussions again on Sunday in Geneva.
On account of that, State Department spokesman Ned Price released a statement about the mediation attempt and Blinken's stance on the matter, saying that the latter "reiterated our commitment to helping Armenia and Azerbaijan resolve issues peacefully," adding that he "expressed our appreciation for the positive steps Armenia and Azerbaijan are taking towards reaching a sustainable peace agreement."
Armenia, however, expects the US to adopt sanctions against Azerbaijan to stop its expansionism, Armenian National Assembly speaker Alen Simonyan said on Sunday in light of the latest escalations in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and after a meeting with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during her visit to Yerevan the day before on Saturday.
Six weeks of violence in the autumn of 2020 claimed over 6,500 lives and ended with a ceasefire accord sponsored by Russia.
Moscow sent 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the truce, but tensions remain despite a ceasefire deal.
With Moscow gaining momentum and further asserting its status in light of the recent ratification of four Ukrainian regions into Russia, the US and the EU have been struggling to take the leading role in mediating the Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization process.