Armenian Official Slams Azerbaijan for Denying ICRC Access to POWs

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–A senior member of the Armenian parliament slammed Azerbaijani authorities on April 17 for refusing to provide information about POW to the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC)–as well as for creating obstacles for Red Cross officials to visit detention places in Azerbaijan where Armenian POW are reported to be kept.

Hovhannes Hovhannisian–chairman of parliament committee on foreign relations and head of Armenian delegation to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) said–citing from a report by the Committee–that unlike Azerbaijan Armenia has made all detention places open for Red Cross officials.

Hovhannisian reminded that before joining the Council of Europe both Armenian and Azerbaijani legislators had called on their governmen’s to respect the activity of the International Committee of Red Cross and create appropriate conditions for its work in their respective states.

Hovhannisian said that according to an order by Armenian president all Azerbaijani POW–kept in Armenia–had been handed over to Azeri authorities–however Azerbaijan has refused to make a similar good will gesture. "Azerbaijan denies keeping Armenian POW but along with it keeps closed detention places for Red Cross officials," Hovhannisian said.

"We are going to send a message to the Red Cross chairman demanding that pressure be placed on Azerbaijan so that it allows inspection of places where Armenian POW may still be kept," he added.

Regarding the number of possible Armenian POW in Azerbaijan Hovhannisian said that the figure of 780–claimed by some public organizations–could hardly be the true one–as most likely many people on this list might have been perished during military actions. According to him–110 is closer to reality.

Hovhannisian went on to praise the ICRC for its efficient cooperation with Armenian authorities–adding that during an April 22-26 PACE session the agenda of which also includes an ICRC issue–the Armenian delegation would give a strong endorsement to its activity.

The PACE session–according to him–is supposed to also turn to several issues concerning the appointment of a reporter on Nagorno Karabakh.

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