BAKU, YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—Azerbaijan’s cabinet on Friday issued document on use of airspace, which allows official Baku to shoot down civilian aircraft deemed to violate Azeri airspace, reported APA news agency.
The document, the use of which is obviously intended to thwart plans to open the airport in Stepanakert, allow the government of Azerbaijan to declare certain areas “banned zones and limited zones,” hence allowing the government to randomly shoot down aircraft it deems in violation of Azeri airspace.
“If the aircraft does not obey orders to land and there is no exact information about innocent passengers onboard, the legislation permits the government to shoot down the aircraft,” reported APA.
Armenia fired back by saying that its Air Force will ensure the safety of Stepanakert Airport.
Armenia’s Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian told reporters Friday ”The Armenian Air Force will run the operation and flights of civil aircraft,” and will be ready to defend and ensure the safety of flights.
Stepanakert airport was built in 1974 and was mostly used to accommodate flights from Yerevan and Baku. In 1992 the airport ceased operations. In 2008 work began on the construction of a new passenger terminal resembling stretched wings of an eagle. In the course of this period the runway was also expanded, by leveling several adjacent hills and completely modernized the facility.
Since official Stepanakert’s announcement of its intention to open the newly rebuilt Stepanakert airport, Baku has threatened to down civilian planes. International mediators have urged a diplomatic solution to the issue.
Baku’s cabinet decision Friday signals that Azerbaijan and its authorities are unwilling to work under international norms and are determined to cause harm to civilians at their random discretion.
On a lighter note, the Artsakh Public Television and the Voice of Artsakh Musical Society have produced a skit, which was entirely shot at the Stepanakert airport.
After airing the segment, the television station was flooded with calls from viewers who wanted to know whether the airport has, in fact, become operational.