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Azerbaijan Rejects Call for Freeing Armenian Hostages, Continuing Manipulations over Humanitarian Issues - Artsakh Foreign Ministry contacted Artak Nersisyan, Head of Information and Public Relations Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) for comments on Azerbaijan's expectations from Armenia on the release of two Azerbaijani citizens. 

- How would you comment on the recent statement by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry that Azerbaijan expects Armenia to release two other Azerbaijani citizens?

- First of all, it should be noted that Azerbaijan’s appeal to the Republic of Armenia is untenable. As to the issue of the Azerbaijani criminals convicted in Artsakh, official Baku must directly appeal to official Stepanakert, which last December, as a gesture of goodwill has expressed readiness to consider within the framework of the law the possibility of early release of Azerbaijani citizen Elnur Huseynzade, who did not commit any grave or particularly grave crime in Artsakh.

At the same time, Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Artsakh called on official Baku to take a reciprocal step and release the Armenian hostages held in Azerbaijan, first of all, those who obviously had health problems. Azerbaijan rejected the proposal, demonstrating an absolute disrespect for its citizens' fate and a  full ignorance of its commitments under international humanitarian law. The Azerbaijani authorities' position on the issue leaves no doubt as to the real intentions of official Baku.

In strict observance of the legislation of the Republic of Artsakh, on February 2, 2019, Elnur Huseynzade, a citizen of Azerbaijan convicted in Artsakh for years in prison for illegally crossing the state border (Article 350 of the Criminal Code), was released.

Elnur Huseynzade appealed to the authorities of the Republic of Artsakh, asking them not to return him to Azerbaijan. The possibility of hading him over to a third country is now being considered.

As to Azerbaijan’s speculations over humanitarian affaris, it should be noted that issues regarding persons, who have committed grave crimes are on a different plane. Dilham Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev, whom Azerbaijan refers to, are criminals who are found guilty of kidnapping and killing an underaged boy, based on the national hatred, as well as a range of other crimes committed in the territory of the Republic of Artsakh.

It is also worth recalling the ill-fated precedents in Azerbaijan of glorifying such criminals as heroes. 

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