Swiss Ambassador to Armenia Lukas Gasser: Switzerland will try to contribute to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict without questioning the established formats such as the OSCE Minsk process
by Tatevik Shahunyan
Armenia offered to free an Azerbaijani prisoner of war on Thursday as it continued trying to secure the release of an Armenian soldier who was captured by Azerbaijani troops near Nagorno-Karabakh last week, RFE/RL's Armenian service said. Armenia offered to free an Azerbaijani prisoner of war on Thursday as it continued trying to secure the release of an Armenian soldier who was captured by Azerbaijani troops near Nagorno-Karabakh last week.
Deputy Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan said that Firuz Farajev, an Azerbaijani soldier who crossed into Armenia a year ago, has "changed his mind and expressed a desire to return to Azerbaijan."
To that end, Farajev has requested an "urgent meeting" with representatives of international humanitarian agencies, Tonoyan told the head of the Yerevan office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Dragana Rankovic. He said the Armenian Defense Ministry therefore hopes that ICRC representatives will visit the POW in custody, according to a ministry statement.
Farajev was detained by Armenian troops at a western section of Armenia's border with Azerbaijan in July 2012. The Armenian Defense Ministry said at the time that the 20-year-old deliberately surrendered to its forces.
The ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisian, admitted that Tonoyan's statement amounted to an offer to exchange Farajev for Hakob Injighulian, an Armenian soldier who crossed the "line of contact" east of Karabakh in still unclear circumstances last week. "The Armenian side is ready to bring back its citizen at any cost," Hovannisian told RFE/RL's Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The Defense Ministry statement quoted Rankovic as assuring Tonoyan that ICRC representatives in Baku believe that they will soon be given access to the Armenian soldier. Injighulyan got lost and was captured on Aug 7-8 night.