Nagorno-Karabakh’s leaders have discussed with a senior official from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe the fate of an Armenian soldier who was taken prisoner by Azerbaijani forces last week.
The 19-year-old conscript, Arayik Ghazarian, was detained on August 12 after crossing the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” around Karabakh in still unclear circumstances.
The Azerbaijani military said Ghazarian claimed to have deserted his unit because of being systematically mistreated by his comrades. Armenia’s Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan denied that, saying that that the soldier probably strayed into Azerbaijani-controlled territory by accident.
Nagorno-Karabakh’s president, foreign minister and top military commander raised the issue with Andrzej Kasprzyk, the longtime head of a small OSCE mission monitoring the ceasefire regime in the Karabakh conflict zone, in separate meetings held in Stepanakert on Tuesday.
“I can’t go into details but all issues were discussed,” said Davit Babayan, a spokesman for President Bako Sahakian. “These are both humanitarian and political issues and they just had to be discussed. Of course, we are first and foremost interested in the fate of our compatriot.”
According to his press office, Masis Mayilian, the Karabakh foreign minister, and Kasprzyk talked about “possibilities of repatriating” Ghazarian. The issue was also on the agenda of Kasprzyk’s meeting with General Karen Abrahamian, the commander of Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army.
On Monday, the Azerbaijani authorities allowed representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit the soldier in custody. An ICRC spokeswoman in Yerevan, Zara Amatuni, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that they spoke to Ghazarian and inquired about his health and detention conditions. Amatuni said the ICRC is also ready to help the prisoner of war communicate with his family in Armenia.