Opening of Khankendi Airport in Armenian-Occupied Nagorno-Karabakh Violates International Law, Warns Azerbaijan

Jan 15, 2013, 08:20 ET from Azerbaijan Monitor

BAKU, Azerbaijan, January 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Azerbaijan has strongly condemned the planned opening of Khankendi airport in Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh. Ahead of the next meeting of EuroNest PA, the head of the Azerbaijani delegation, Elkhan Suleymanov said: "The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) should not certify the opening of a new airport in the Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and the launch of civil flight routes from and to it, which so obviously violate Azerbaijan's airspace and the rules of international law."

Suleymanov added that operating civil flights in Nagorno-Karabakh without the consent of the State Civil Aviation Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan, would both contradict the 1994 Chicago Convention on Civil Aviation and go against the principles of state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Baku, recognised in its Resolutions No. 822, 854, 873, and 884, by the UN Security Council and confirmed in similar documents by the European Parliament, PACE, OSCE PA, and other international organisations.

The controversy follows a period of renewed efforts by the international community, together with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group, to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Frozen Conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh, the region seized by separatist Armenian paramilitary groups together with seven surrounding districts in Azerbaijan in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

The Azerbaijani delegation stresses that the intention to illegally open the airport of Khankendi is a provocation and proves that the Armenian side is not interested in the solution of the conflict. Launching new civil flight routes in the occupied territories "escalates the atmosphere of distrust between the parties, destructively influences the process of negotiations and serves to realise claims on changing the status of Nagorno-Karabakh and to internationally legalise the occupational regimes," said Suleymanov.

In October last year, Armenia announced its intention to open the airport of Khankendi in order to operate civil flights from and to Yerevan. The move raised protests among the international community. The Special Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for the South Caucasus, Patrick Murphy, said at a press conference in November that "Whatever is done regarding this airport, it cannot have any consequences for the status of this territory." The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the European Civil Aviation Conference (ICAC) also publicly voiced their support for the position of Baku on this issue.

The airport of Khankendi is close to Khojaly, a city which holds special significance for Azerbaijan, as over six hundred ethnic Azerbaijani civilians were killed there on 25-26 February 1992 by Armenian and, partially, CIS armed forces during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Western governments and the western media refer to it as the Khojaly Massacre or Khojaly Tragedy. Azerbaijani and Turkish sources refer to it as the Khojaly Genocide.

SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor