YEREVAN, October 10. / ARKA /. An Armenian military expert downplayed today Azerbaijan’s threats to shoot down Armenian aircrafts that would operate flights from Nagorno-Karabakh capital Stepanakert’s reconstructed airport to Armenia and back.
According to David Jamalian, Baku would shoot down the aircrafts if it were sure of not being punished, but it knows that Armenian air defense forces would retaliate to any such attempt. “This is why I do not think that Azerbaijan’s verbal threats may translate into action,’ he said to a news conference.
According to him, Armenia has enough capabilities for a "painful blow" to Azerbaijan, if Baku tries to carry out its threats.
He also commented on Turkey’s foreign ministry’s statement that the opening of the airport, “in the occupied territories, was a provocation that would halt the negotiation process to find an enduring settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
"It was predictable. It once again confirmed that the Azerbaijani-Turkish tandem is a military and strategic alliance. Air corridors lie across Armenia as well and we have our tools to harm the interests of other parties," Jamalian said.
Azerbaijani authorities would warn of “corresponding measures” if Nagorno-Karabakh resumed flights. The Azerbaijani State Civil Aviation Administration said that the planned Yerevan-Stepanakert flights would constitute an “invasion” of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized airspace and that “taking corresponding measures in connection with that is inevitable
But in a statement issued in July, the U.S., Russian, and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group said they “received renewed assurances from the sides that they will reject any threat or use of force against civil aircraft, pursue the matter through diplomatic steps, and refrain from politicizing the issue.”
“The co-chairs reaffirmed that operation of this (Stepanakert) airport cannot be used to support any claim of a change in the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, and urged the sides to act in accordance with international law and consistent with current practice for flights over their territory.”
The Stepanakert airport is ready to operate flights. Its reconstruction cost some $5 million. The airport is equipped according to international standards and is able to handle up to 100 passengers per hour. The airport was reconstructed to operate also international flights in future. The flights will be handled by Air Artsakh company. -0-