Georgia and the U.S. brokered a new deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia, involving Baku’s release of 15 Armenian prisoners of war in exchange for getting from Yerevan a map of landmines in Agdam district, controlled by Armenian forces until recently. The captives were handed over to Armenia on the Azerbaijani-Georgian border, with the Georgian authorities in attendance.
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry underscored yesterday the support of the Georgian Government and Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili for the implementation of the deal. It also said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Acting Assistant Secretary Philip Reeker, European Council President Charles Michel, and the Swedish Chairmanship of the OSCE contributed to the process.
The Government of Georgia said the deal was achieved through “the active participation of Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, and engagement from U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Philip Reeker.
“An extraordinary step has been taken toward bettering the security architecture of the South Caucasus,” stated the Georgian Government, adding that the deal “will give tremendous impetus to diffusing the tensions between Georgia’s immediate neighbors.”
President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili said, “Georgia is back on its historic mediator role, [U.S.] and EU are back in the Caucasus, building confidenc[e] is the path to lasting peace.”
Proud of the role🇬🇪played in close coordination w/our strategic partner 🇺🇸 & Acting Assistant Sec Reeker to facilitate 🇦🇿's release of 15🇦🇲citizens detained during the conflict. 🇦🇲providing🇦🇿info about mined territories is an important step toward improved security in our region. https://t.co/ncizGfTO90
— Irakli Garibashvili (@GharibashviliGe) June 12, 2021
Welcoming the release of Armenian detainees, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said “We’re grateful to the Government of Georgia for its vital role facilitating discussions between the sides. Such steps will bring the people of the region closer to the peaceful future they deserve.”
“The process was brokered by the U.S. and Georgian authorities, for which the Government of the Republic of Armenia thanks the U.S. President’s Administration and the Government of Georgia,” noted Mané Gevorgyan, spokesperson to Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan. “The return of all our compatriots kept in Azerbaijan is a priority for the Government of Armenia,” the spokesperson underlined.
Dozens of other Armenian prisoners of war are believed to remain in the Azerbaijani captivity months after the six-week-long war over Nagorno-Karabakh in fall 2020.
- Assistant Secretary Reeker Returns to Tbilisi, Meets PM Garibashvili
- Georgia’s National Security Council on Karabakh Developments
- Opinion | Region Reshaped: Nagorno-Karabakh at a Critical Juncture