Armenia, Karabakh Warn Azerbaijan Over Airport Threats

Stepanakert Airport

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh have issued fresh warnings to Azerbaijan after it stepped up its threats to forcibly halt planned commercial flights to the Karabakh.

The Azerbaijani government on Friday formally authorized its air force to shoot down any aircraft flying above Karabakh without Baku’s permission if there is “no precise information about civilian passengers on board.” Azerbaijani warplanes will have to force them to land at an Azerbaijani airport if they are known to transport civilians, according to that decision.

Azerbaijani news agencies quoted Arif Mammadov, head of the country’s civil aviation authority, as saying that during the reconstruction of Karabakh’s sole airport Baku repeatedly warned relevant international bodies that the planned Yerevan-Stepanakert flights are illegal. “We informed them that Nagorno-Karbakh’s airspace is closed, and in accordance with our law on civil aviation, we plan to destroy aircraft that will try to land there,” he said.

Armenia’s Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian dismissed those threats at a news conference later on Friday. “After a final decision is made [on the flights] Armenia’s air defense and air forces will ensure [the safety] of planned flights by civilian aircraft,” he said.

Ohanian’s spokesman, Artsrun Hovannesian, likewise insisted on Wednesday that the Armenian military will prevent the Azerbaijani side from disrupting the flight service. “Air-defense forces are supposed to not only shoot down enemy warplanes but also ensure the security of civilian aircraft,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (

Hovannesian argued that Armenian military and civilian helicopters have for years flown to Karabakh without any problems. “Such flights to Stepanakert are also taking place at present,” he said.

Karabakh’s leaders denounced the Azerbaijani government decision as “state terrorism” and said it will not thwart the reopening of Stepanakert airport. “We are capable of ensuring the security of our airspace and the entire territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,” a spokeswoman for NKR President Bako Sahakian reportedly said over the weekend.

The international community has repeatedly expressed concern over the flight controversy, urging the conflicting parties to seek a “diplomatic solution” to the dispute. U.S., Russian and French diplomats trying to broker a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict voiced serious misgivings about the planned flights when they visited Stepanakert last November.


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  1. Ray07 said:

    Azeri animals will suffer the wrath of the Armenian sword.

    God Bless Armenia, and All Armenians around the world.

  2. Dvo said:

    If Azeris even try to shoot down our planes
    than we must give them one huge blow by bombarding baku to ruins and shoot down all Azeri airplanes in Naxichevan

  3. Arziv said:

    We agree about one hard knock out blow. However can anyone clearly spell out the capabilities and reach of the AAF ? A fleet of Bombers is required to blast the oil fields up in flames.

  4. Tigran said:

    If they shoot airplanes down, all Armenia has to do is blow up the oil pipeline that the Azeris so conveniently made a few miles away from the Karabakh border. From then on, Armenia does even need an army. All we will need is a match book. and then after half of their so called ‘home lands’ are burned down Armenia just needs to blow up the Saransang Reservoir in the direction of Azerbaijan to put out the flames.

  5. vrejepashpane said:

    Azeris are sick. Shooting down civilians is befitting for a genocidal nation that kills people in their sleep and then celebrates it. I have been to Artsakh and I liked it more than Armenia proper. People were kinder. They are united. That land must never fall in Azeri hands again.

  6. Fred said:

    What is shocking is not Azerbaijans barbaric statements. The shocking thing is that America, Russia, France have not taken up on themselves to worn Azerbaijan, agains such an action. Well it is obvious, the whole world is against us, but we are used to it. Personaly I prefere the cunstruction of a fast underground train service between Yerevan and Stepanagert.

  7. Garo Yeghichian said:

    Azeris are talking to match.let them to slip on there own oil.
    Garoy says

  8. Josef said:

    Christian Brothern around the world must always stand with Armenia because Armenia is where GOD gave man a second chance!