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.
An important confidence building step and an indication of the necessity of constructive bilateral contacts.… pic.twitter.com/n3seX8FBcG
— Ali Alizada 🇦🇿 (@Ali_F_Alizada) December 13, 2023
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.
Great Return: Azerbaijan 🇦🇿 relocates 20 more families to the liberated #Lachin city. With this latest relocation, the total number of families resettled in Lachin has reached 383, comprising 1,475 individuals. pic.twitter.com/gfz62jR4xo
— Khazar Farhadov 🇦🇿 (@k_farhadov) December 14, 2023