Politics 11:11 20/09/2019 Armenia

Anzhela Elibekova: Azerbaijan kidnaps Armenian civilians for laying out exchange demands

“The Azerbaijani suggestion to exchange two saboteurs jailed with murder charges with two Armenian captives is not news,” Anzhela Elibekova, expert in Azerbaijan told Panorama.am in an interview when asked to comment on the recent announcement that came from Azerbaijan. “For years they have tried to use international platforms to raise the issues and get back their saboteurs,” Elibekova said.

As the expert stressed, the Azerbaijani side exercises pressures on the Armenian side, including at the border through kidnaping civilians and then coming up with exchange deals.

“They will continue this practice until the saboteurs are back. They need it considering also the political context in Azerbaijan. They do it intentionally, focusing especially on nearby settlements of Tavush province, as recently an Armenian civilian was kidnapped who turned out had been suffering from mental illness,” stressed Elibekova.

In her words, the Armenian side should raise this issues with the international community first of all the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and point to the this method of Azerbaijan to return the murderers.
Elibekova stressed that if the saboteurs are freed and returned to Azerbaijan, they would most probably receive a hero welcome in the motherland as in the Safarov case.

“I cannot imagine the feelings of the families of the killed people. Has anyone ever talked to them. What is their position regarding freeing the saboteurs?” said our speaker.

Commenting on the legal aspect of the possible swap deal, Elibekova noted: “There is official Stepanakert. The saboteurs are jailed in Shushi prison of the Artsakh Republic. There is a court verdict. What are the ways of organizing the process. Official Yerevan cannot return its citizens in exchange of criminal from Shushi prison without considering Stepanakert position. The consent of the three sides is needed. Thus, the legal aspect of the deal is quite complicated as well,” said Elibekova.

To remind, Armenian citizen Karen Ghazaryan was detained by Azerbaijani troops in July 2018 and was sentenced to 20 years of prison on charges of attempting to carry out terrorist attacks in Azerbaijan, while Arayik Ghazaryan was detained after ending up in Azerbaijani territory in still unclear circumstances on 12 August 2019.

Azerbaijani citizen Dilgam Asgarov was sentenced to life in prison by an Artsakh court, while Shahbaz Guliyev got 22 years in prison on charges of killing a teenager, illegally crossing the Artsakh border and spying.

Source Panorama.am
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