On June 12, Azerbaijan has returned 15 detained Armenian soldiers in exchange for Armenia’s landmine maps of the Agdam region, which has come under the control of Azerbaijan as a result of the second Karabakh war in the fall of 2020. The exchange of soldiers has been conducted on the border between Georgia and Azerbaijan.
PM of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili has been personally involved in maintaining constant communication with Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev:
“Proud of the role Georgia played in close coordination with our strategic partner, the USA, and Acting Assistant Secretary Reeker to facilitate Azerbaijan's release of 15 Armenian citizens detained during the conflict. Armenia providing Azerbaijan with the information about mined territories is an important step toward improved security in our region”, PM Garibashvili tweeted after the exchange had taken place.
Georgia’s efforts in facilitating the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan were welcomed by the country’s partners in the United States:
“The U.S. welcomes the release by Azerbaijan of 15 Armenian detainees. We're grateful to the Government of Georgia for its vital role in facilitating discussions between the sides. Such steps will bring the people of the region closer to the peaceful future they deserve,”, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in his tweet.
The US Embassy to Georgia has also expressed gratitude for the role that the country played in a recent exchange:
“We are grateful to Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and the Government of Georgia for the essential role Georgia played in facilitating these steps, which bring the people of the region closer to the peaceful and prosperous future they deserve.
The United States is pleased to support these steps and hopes they will lay the groundwork for additional cooperation. We continue to call for the return of all detainees and stand ready to assist the countries of the region in their efforts to continue cooperation and resolve outstanding issues between them. We also continue to urge Armenia and Azerbaijan to reengage in substantive negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to negotiate a comprehensive political settlement to the conflict,” the Embassy said in its statement.