EU Urges Diplomatic Solution to Stepanakert Airport Issue
BRUSSELS—The European Union urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve the issue of the opening of the Stepanakert airport through diplomatic means to avoid further heightening of the conflict and not complicate the negotiations.
“Issues concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement process were discussed, including the issue of possible flights to the airport in Nagorno-Karabakh. Commissioner Fule reiterated the EU’s continued support for the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and their efforts in facilitating a peaceful settlement. He also stressed the need for the sides to seek a diplomatic solution to issues relating to this airport and to avoid any actions that could fuel tensions in the region,” said a statement issued Thursday following a meeting between Armenia’s Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan and European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule.
Karabakh authorities completed construction of the Stepanakert Airport and according to officials are finalizing technical details to make the airport operational.
Since announcing its intention to operate the airport, which will operate between Karabakh and Yerevan, Azerbaijan has threatened to down planes, prompting President Serzh Sarkisian to declare that he would become the first passenger on the proposed flight.
Azerbaijan’s military rhetoric has not subsided despite warning by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen, with Azerbaijan announcing last week that its entire air defense operations were on alert to thwart what it called “violations of Azeri airspace.”
The warnings, however, have not deterred Nagorno-Karabakh Republic authorities from moving ahead with plans to make the airport fully operational and to transport passengers between Stepanakert and Yerevan.