Azerbaijan authorities have threatened to expel staff of the Red Cross from the country unless the access is given to two Azerbaijanis captured by Armenian forces in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region last week.
Deputy Prime Minister Ali Hasanov issued a warning to the head of the International committee of the Red Cross delegation in Baku saying that if the charity did not arrange a meeting with the captured Azeri then action would be taken.
Speaking to Azerbaijani News Agency the deputy Prime Minister said “I seriously warned the ICRC Azerbaijani representation that if we do not achieve [their demands], serious measures will be taken toward the ICRC representation, even up to banishing from the country”.
The decision to demand action from the Red Cross is one that will disturb much of the international community. The Red Cross is a highly respected international organisation but one with no authority to demand prisoner exchanges or meetings.
It is unsure if Azerbaijan fully intends to follow-up on its threats aimed at the Red Cross but if it does it will become one of the very few countries globally that has failed to cooperate with the international support charity.
Exact details of the two prisoners I question are not known yet and contradicting reports have come in from both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Currently it is undetermined whether the Azeri citizens captured in Kalbajar were military or civilian. Armenian authorities have yet to respond to Azerbaijan’s actions but have previously stated that those captured will not be treated as prisoners of war.