Armenia’s acting premier suggest swapping his son for Armenian prisoners in Azerbaijan

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YEREVAN, June 9. /TASS/. Armenia’s Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told his supporters in the town of Aparan on Tuesday he was ready to swap his son for Armenian prisoners held by Azerbaijan.

“This is what I say officially to [Azerbaijani President Ilkham] Aliyev: I suggest swapping my son for all prisoners,” Pashinyan said, inviting his rivals in the upcoming parliamentary election – ex-presidents Serzh Sargsyan and Robert Kocharyan – to do the same.

The statement was made in response to Sargsyan’s criticism of Pashinyan’s earlier words that a prisoner swap with Azerbaijan can wait for one or two months.

Pashinyan’s son Ashot wrote on his Facebook page he was ready to take part in the prisoner swap.

Following the end of military action in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone last fall, when seven regions adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh fell under Azerbaijan’s control, the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan moved to the immediate vicinity of the Syunik and Gegharkunik Provinces. The situation there exacerbated on May 12. Then, the Armenian Defense Ministry announced that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces attempted to carry out “certain operations” in the Syunik Province in a bid to “redefine the border.” The Azerbaijani forces ceased their activities after the Armenian Armed Forces took measures in response.

However, both parties regularly report new incidents. On May 27, Azerbaijan announced that it had captured six Armenian servicemen during an attempt to cross the border. The Armenian side confirmed that the servicemen were captured yet emphasized that at the time they were involved in engineering works in the border area of Armenia’s Gegharkunik Province. Later, Yerevan said that it had turned to the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) with regards to the escalation of the situation on the Armenian-Azeri border. In their turn, the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group on settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh put forward their de-escalation plan, which involves the parties withdrawing troops and beginning the process of demarcating and delimiting the state border with the assistance of the Minsk Group.