President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev, presides over a military parade marking the third anniversary of the Victory in the Patriotic War, in the former capital of Nagorno-Karabakh region, known to Armenians as Stepanakert, and in Azerbaijan as Khankendi, Azerbaijan, 08 November 2023. EPA-EFE/STRINGER


Relations thaw further as Armenia and Azerbaijan exchange POWs at border


In a sign of improving relations and goodwill, recent adversaries Armenia and Azerbaijan have swapped prisoners of war at their mutual border.

Baku set free 32 Armenian soldiers seized between 2020 and 2023, while Yerevan returned two Azerbaijani fighters captured in April 2023.

The exchange was part of an earlier announced swap agreement and took place on the countries’ shared border in the area of Gazakh.

The International Committee of the Red Cross was on hand to check the health of the soldiers.

On December 7, Armenia and Azerbaijan declared together they would “take concrete steps to build confidence” and reaffirmed their aim to “normalise relations and sign a peace treaty”.

They announced the exchange deal at the same time. The latest events are seen as a diplomatic breakthrough by international observers.

Azerbaijani news agencies also reported that the Government had transferred a number of citizens to the city of Lachin, moving 20 families comprising a total of 86 people.

Baku is relocating families into newly constructed residences following Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s directions, indicating continued efforts to repopulate the area of Nagorno-Karabakh, which it now occupies.

With this latest move, the number of families resettled in Lachin now stands at 383, totalling 1,475 people.

Before the Azerbaijani takeover, Nagorno-Karabakh had a reported Armenian population of 120,000 people.

UN refugee agency officials said that close to the entire population has since fled to Armenia.