Azerbaijan Boycotts POW Conference in Germany

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Azerbaijan has refused to participate in a meeting–that was organized by the International Working Group–which tried to bring together Armenian and Azerbaijani officials who are collecting information about soldiers and civilians reported missing during the military actions between the two countries in early 90s. The meeting was originally scheduled to take place in Germany November 10-12.

The members of the group were in Azerbaijan in early October and discussed issues related to soldiers reported missing and hostages with local officials. The Group said that Azeri officials said they would take part in the meeting.

On November 2–Azerbaijan said it was not going to send its representatives to Germany. The move was described by the Group as "violation of previously given pledge."

Human rights activists organizing the meeting have criticized the Azerbaijani authorities for deciding to boycott this meeting.

Azerbaijani national security minister Namiq Abbasov said he would not sit down at the negotiating table with representatives of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh until Azerbaijani territories were liberated. They said that ordinary people would suffer as a result of this.

An international working group on prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Karabakh conflict has expressed regret over the fact that the Azerbaijani authorities "do not keep their word."

According to Azerbaijani Turan news agency–the reason for this is Abbasov’s reluctance to sit down at the negotiating table with Armenian separatists.

"There should be no talk about joint meetings until Armenia liberates the occupied territories," Abbasov said. "I personally have ignored all invitations to visit Armenia within the framework of international or other events."

This news surprised the initiators of this humanitarian action–who is the international working group on prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Karabakh conflict.

"The international working group–throughout its history mediating conflicts–has never before come across parties rejecting agreemen’s reached previously," writes the activists in their press release.

"This time the Azerbaijani side is not keeping its word and is refusing to take part in the meeting in Germany. We are firmly convinced that this is a significant step backwards in common efforts to establish humanitarian links. In our work we always support giving priority to human values and in any conflict we unwaveringly stand on one side–on the side of the people suffering as a result of this conflict. It is these very people who will suffer as a result of the Azeri authorities’ decision to cancel its participation in this meeting," the statement says.

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