Azerbaijan Threatens To Shoot Down Karabakh Planes

The Karabakh airport

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Azerbaijan on Wednesday threatened to shoot down civilian planes that will fly to Nagorno-Karabakh’s sole airport currently undergoing reconstruction. The Karabakh Armenian leadership dismissed the threat, saying that the first commercial flights between Karabakh and Armenia in two decades will start as planned in May.

According to Arif Mammadov, the director of Azerbaijan’s Civil Aviation Administration, the Azerbaijani government warned the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) last October that it does not authorize any flights to Karabakh.

“We notified that the airspace over Karabakh is closed,” Mammadov said, according to the APA news agency. “The law on aviation envisages the physical destruction of airplanes landing in that territory.”

Mammadov revealed that Baku sent another letter to the ICAO recently warning that the region’s airspace is closed and “at the disposal of Azerbaijan’s Air Force.” “We asked the ICAO to notify the opposing side in order to prevent negative incidents,” he said, adding that the Montreal-based body forwarded that letter to Armenia.

Nagonro-Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakian condemned the threat and warned through a spokesman that any attempt to thwart the planned flights would meet with an “adequate response” from the Karabakh military.

“If Azerbaijan resorts to such actions, it will trigger unpredictable developments,” Sahakian’s press secretary, Davit Babayan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

“Such threats do not scare us, they only discredit Azerbaijan,” said Babayan. “We will go ahead with exploiting our airport as planned.”

Flights to and from the airport, located 8 kilometers east of Stepanakert, were discontinued in 1991 amid intensifying armed clashes in and around Karabakh that degenerated into a full-scale war. Transport communication between Karabakh and the outside world has since been carried out by land, via Armenia.

The Karabakh government decided in 2009 to reopen the airport, severely damaged during the 1991-1994 war. Its $3 million reconstruction is now nearing completion.

A regular flight service between Stepanakert and Yerevan is scheduled to be launched on May 9, a public holiday in Karabakh that will mark the 19th anniversary of a the liberation of Shoushi.

Dmitry Atbashian, head of the local civil aviation authority, assured journalists earlier this year that flight security “will be ensured by 100 percent” despite the airport’s proximity to the heavily militarized “line of contact” separating Armenian and Azerbaijani forces.

Atbashian also announced that the Stepanakert-Yerevan flights will be carried out by a newly established Karabakh airline, Artsakh Air. He said its fleet of aircraft will consist of three Canadian-made CRJ200 passenger jets.


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  1. Papken Hartunian said:

    May 9 is my birthday. I am sure nothing will happen. Long Live Artsakh!

  2. Ruben said:

    I think the best thing to do is to have military aircraft escort the civilian airplane for the first month. Possibly this will be the beginning of a new war. At least they will have a “valid” point.

  3. Marc said:

    No wondering why Armenia modernizes her air defense power with S300 air missiles, it seems that is true that Azerbaijan had/have experience of killing innocent people of the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

  4. A Hye said:

    A threat against civilian aircraft! We should immediately stop all negotiations. Stop all talks until Azerbaijan retracts it’s threats and apologizes.

    • manooshag said:

      All nations of the world should learn that Azeris bullies threaten to blow a civilian airplane out of the sky simply because it chooses… threats are directed to Armenians but shooting an air flight, ANY civilian flight – because it ‘wants’ to… Threats from Azeris are uncivilized/out of sync with the rest of the civilized nations…. now their Ottoman mentality – ongoing/unending. What does a Byrza have to say about all this?? Manooshag

  5. John said:

    Helicopters have been flying in and out of Artsakh for years, and Azerbaijan has not dared interfered. Azerbaijan is blowing smoke.

    This threat is an error by Azerbaijan because it can’t back it up. Watch, the OSCE will condemn BOTH sides because of this, because the OSCE is mentally ill.

    Maybe the next time the OSCE representatives visit Artsakh, they will go on one of the new flights, and then we’ll see what Azerbaijan does.

  6. Perouz said:

    I’ve seen a lot of airports, but never one with such outstanding architecture. It is absolutely amazing in the originality of its design which calls forth flight and aviation to the mind. Bravo to the architect, and plaudits also to the design and award committees. It’s worth going there just to see the building. Hope they have Armenian art on the walls inside..

  7. facts said:

    I still would use this flight..

    NKR and Armenia should inform the world organizations about terrorist methods which Baku is going to apply against NKR population..

    What we hear from Baku is nothing knew; Baku is ruled still by war criminals and terrorists. The same officials in Baku did order to shut an Iranian passenger flight over Karabakh during Karabakh war, hopping to gain political dividends … !

  8. robomen1 said:

    Azarbaijanis government wich is represents osama ben laden in region should know that is declaration of full scale war.

  9. Arman said:

    So first azeris got some anti craft missals from Russia and now threaten us to hit our plains? Good job our allies Russia, whose side are you now? Russia never should be trusted. We should have very good relations with Russia based on healthy and mutual interests not in to slavery. Slavery brings this type of threats as we can see.
    So I don’t forget, thanks to you to our fallen government :(

    • Berge Jololian said:

      The US State Department (Americans) are worse than the Russians! You are left with Iran – historically reliable traditional neighbour.

      • VAHE said:

        Artsakh Defense Forces should declare similar warning to international air carriers and ICAO that teritory of azarbaijan would be NO FLY ZONE , in case of any harm against civilian flights to Stepanakert.
        Furthermore , try to hit the runways at azari airports.
        Eye against eye , there is no other language.

  10. Sarkis said:

    azerbaijans latest actions are as disgusting as the way they portray axe murderer/decapitator ramil safarov… its already been said that the azeris have demonstrated defiantly to the world that they are capable of murdering Armenian civilians at any moment. history always repeats itself, so nobody should bother crying to the “international community”. there are only two possible options: lay down like in 1915 or stand up like 1918 and 1988…. and on a final note Armenian defense officials should look into the preemptive defense options that are so fashionable today among the superpowers

  11. Raffi said:

    Azerbaijani’s are all cowards. They just threaten. Nothing will happen, because they know very well that another war against NKR will cripple them for good. I just can’t see them winning against the brave soldiers in that area. Not to mention the rough terrain. That is a huge advantage in battle. If a civilian plain is shot down, Azerbaijan should be very worried.

    • manooshag said:

      Ara, my story is about the chicken and the rooster… the moral being ADVERTISE
      The chickens lay the eggs, but the rooster ‘crows’… Hence we should be telling the world of the Azeri/Turkic stance for threatening to shoot down civilian air flights… ADVERTISING the Azeri stance – which in effect, is initiating threats against ALL air flights thus to come – the world over!! Manooshag

  12. Ishkhan said:

    That will be a Suicide for Baku, If right? Baku plays with Fire …..Azerbaijani must be familiiar with Armenian Pilots’ epic who are descendant of Nelson Stepanian.

  13. Tsoghig said:

    Every time I think to myself, man I want to stop hating Turks and Azeris, I want to be friends with people I meet who are nice individuals who happen to be Turks or Azeris…I want to stop hating their leaders and the ignorant people in their communities, I read another article like this one. These are the biggest bullies in the world and I can’t wait for them to try to attack a civilian flight…let them try…[pOp

  14. A Hye said:

    It doesn’t make any difference whether they are “blowing smoke”.
    Whether they can back up their threats. Whether it’s all a bluff.
    The mere fact that they made this threat should put a stop to all negotiations. How can you negotiate with someone who could make a threat against civilians like this?? Even if you could negotiate, would you ever trust ANYONE who would make a threat like this? Could you ever accept their word??

    Play the game, stop all negotiations, make a big stink about this threat. We should immediately walk out of talks and demand an apology. Every time they so much as take a single shot at one of our brave men on the line, we should stop talking. We should demand an apology. We are supposed to be at a cease fire. Why do we accept shots at our soldiers? Why do we accept such threats against civilian aircraft. Makes no difference whether its a bluff or ideal threat, the mere fact that they did it is enough.

    • Arman said:

      I agree with your words 100%. The reason our leaders do not stop negotiations after many threats is very simple, they can stay on power thanks to Russia and Russia doesn’t want Armenia to stop negotiations since it is the mediator of this talks. In other wards our nation is forced into slavery so that a group of people can benefit from it. These leadership is going down and it drags the nation with it.
      The conclusion is that we will have many loses until we get rid of these biliousness oriented ticks. End of story!

  15. Ara said:

    If they do what they say, we can hit them back easily. there are substantially more targets in Azerbaijan!

  16. Ara said:

    If they do what they say, we can easily retaliate forcefully. they have substantially more targets in azerbeijan!

  17. Fred said:

    The opening of the NKR airport is wonderfull news. Azery official treat is a joke as is their entire country. I do not even dignify the Azery jokes with a responce. I do however wish the brave people of Atsakh all the success and hope that this will be the flood gate for an even faster development in the reagion. Azerbaijan without Armenians would deteriorate into a ghost country. They have no future. By killing and forcefully removing all Armenians from Baku and Azery held teritories they have littraly signed the death warent of Azerbaijan. These outbursts are the outbursts of a dying country. A dying people with no culture and no future. A laughing stock in international circles. I pitty them for once they run out of Oil or when world stops using Oil they will wither into nothingness. There will be no place in the 22nd century world for BARBARIANS.

  18. ara said:

    I wrote here the other day-Our jets will escort anddestroy the azeri’s. Turks are turks-as in azeris-they do nto know better-they live by sword and so we know- till death do them apart- I will bring my tank to their capitol and wreak havoc! bully wooley the azeris are

  19. Edward Demian said:

    I am having a historical “deja vous” moment. I hate to put down this sinister draconian thought; but here it is: ” Remember the Lucitania”. Anyone in Azerbaijian read history that far back? Well that was not that long ago. In fact it happened in 1915 and was responsible for the United States to enter the war on the side of the allies. The German Kayser gave a stupid order which was followed to the letter. A neutral ship full of civillian passegers, some American, were drowned when a German U boat torpedoed it. If the Azeris shoot down a civilian plane full of American and other nationals, you can be sure that they will kiss goodbye any good will they now possess in the US legislature. The sinister thought that I am ashamed to admit, is that I almost hope that they do it, for the good that it will come to us from it. May god have mercy on my soul. Good God what a world this has become.

  20. VEREZHson said:

    Azeris in last 16 years been adviced by their brother turks(otomans)….azeris can break any kind of laws
    you name it, Except one thing they wont dare to attack (WAR) .They know they will lose baku plus the oil that brother turk is

    I personally want to see the war because it will only take two to six houres not four years like last time.

  21. truth said:

    Azerbaijani authorities are showing once again there true color and face, and are treating openly civilians! Azerbaijani officials are doing every thing to destroy the communication links of Armenian with Iran and Georgia

    We can not 100% exclude the possibility, that Azerbaijani secret service was not involved in the last air crash of Iranian airplane (Caspian airline) form Tehern to Yerevan , which did cost so many civilians (including a lot of Diaspora Armenians) there life!

  22. Garo Avedis said:

    Its a bluff,I hope the Aliyev will never make that mistake for his own good.

  23. Masis said:

    The Azeris have done it again! Threatening amidst negotiations. Noone in history has shot down civilian planes. I believe our leaders respond, but their rhetoric needs to be more threatening. That’s how Turks fight. They need to know that shooting a civilian plane will have grave consequences. It will guarantee that their nation would not see the next decade. Since they do not recognize “Genocide,” we will obtain our own vengeance and retribution for the events of 1915. The Azeris will repay what the Ottomans owe us. Then we will let the West utilize play-on euphamistic words to describe our actions. Our response will be more fierce than anything written in their Shariyat Law.

  24. Vladimir said:

    These type of acts constitute terrorism. So why not US place Azerbaijan as a whole country on it’s Axis of Evil list like it does all terrorist organizations.

  25. Jack said:

    What do you expect from a Turkish Islamic people… threatening to blow up commercial civilian flights. Terrorists at heart.

  26. Seervart said:

    I say stop negotiations immediately and demand an apology. You cannot negotiate with mere bullies and ax-murderers.

  27. Seervart said:

    Karapakh, bravo it’s a gorgeous architecture. The face of the building is like a flying bird, beautiful structure. We must demand an apology from those Azeri bullies though.

  28. ara said:

    Typical chicken shit turks, every dog has its day. They shouldn’t even be there in the first place!!

  29. Armen_Sardar said:

    While I live and work in NKR I long to see the flights. I will be the first one to take the flight if there is chance in doing so. I work for development of Artsakh, particularly tourism development. I would say that opening the flights will be a HUGE boost for the industry. I don’t believe that Azeris will implement what they promise. If they do – that will be their end. I am just furious that big powers still differentiate beteen usama bin laden and ilhom aliev…for me they are equal evils capable of taking innocent lives.

  30. nana said:

    And who will be the shooters? Since when Azeris fight for what they get.
    During WWII my mother was securing the sky of Baku from German aircraft reconnaissance flights.
    Isn’t it ironic?

  31. Grish Begian said:

    I think Alioff gone out of control and he needs a good psychologist like Cesar Millan..

  32. Steve said:

    Stop the negotiations until the whole world hears what azerbajian has threatened.

  33. zohrab said:

    just ignore but if they dofly there destroy all his airfields stop him selling oil then blow his palace u will never hear from him again

  34. Hayq said:

    Politically, I would have the first flight be empty of any civilians. Then commence regular operations. I wonder how the world will react with news headlines, “Azerbaijan fires at civilian aircraft.” Let’s see if the OSCE has something productive to say.

    • manooshag said:

      Speak up and speak out – tell the world that the Azeris threaten to shoot down civilian air flights seeking to harm Armenians – BUT are Azeris starting a new trend threatening the world’s airlines and flights… via (in addition to committing Genocides) pursuing another ‘venue’ to gain their goals via ‘downing’ Civilian Air Flights – what next??

  35. ed said:

    Azerbaijani Kanat has signed an cease-fire with NKR . Given this fact, Armenia should forward a strong letter of protest to UN Security Council on behalf of NKR!

    There should be a resolution in US condemning terrorist threats against civilian flights and civilians as well other provocations by criminal regime in Baku!

    Apparently, officials in Baku are afraid of unrest within there society, therefore they have stated new orchestrated provocations and accusation against Armenian and NKR, involving even US embassy in Baku in there anti Armenian propaganda

  36. Random Armenian said:


    I would think that they would make test flights first. I don’t know if the CRJ200 have been flown in that area before. They made test flights of the new Sukhoi Superjets in Armenia. Armavia is supposed to get the very first one.

    To go off on a tangent, I think the new Superjets scare me a little since they’re brand new models and supposed to be more advanced. This means that there could be kinks with the plane that have not been found and ironed out yet. I would feel safer with older model Boeings and Airbusses that have been improved over the years.

  37. bobken safarian said:

    We have the will prevail. There is no pleasure in defeat. Our spirit will rise, and we will be the conquerers of Armenian Land. The conquest is the greates God given Pleasure, one can feel. We have the will to see Armenian Territories to expand .

  38. Nareg said:

    The turks had a saying for their azeri brothers.If an armenian kills a women… Flee! your whole flank or the’ll frikken kick your asses and love from california la glendale brothers.ide rather have 1 armenian brother than 100 turkish allies defending me.

  39. nonna said:

    All these threats are mere nonsense. Why have the Azeri leaders waited for so long? They were completely aware that the Stepanakert airport is being restored. Why didn’ t they manifest their protests before that? What they are able of is only threatening.Time will show. God forebid!If necessary,we will show what we can do to protect the justice.

  40. arziv said:

    We must not worry at all. We can always call on the pixilated clown, the dwarf eunuch of Sarkozzy and tht Obama guy to impose a ” no flying zone” for Azeri war planes.