Azerbaijan Denies Passage for NATO Surveillance Planes to Afghanistan

Baku (APA)–A German mission to send AWACS surveillance planes to Afghanistan has been delayed after Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan denied over flight clearance through their airspace, a German official said Tuesday, reported the German Deutsche Welle paper.

The NATO AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) surveillance aircrafts had been awaiting deployment in Konya, Turkey for three weeks, but have since returned to Germany after clearance to fly over Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan en route to Afghanistan was refused, Thomas Raabe, a defense ministry spokesman, said in Berlin.

“The ball is now in NATO’s court,” said Raabe, adding: “NATO is negotiating with (these) two countries.

Meanwhile, the German Suddeutsche Zeitung reported Wednesday that NATO is negotiating with the United Arab Emirates for alternative routes.

In July the German Bundestag voted for the deployment of soldiers to serve aboard the surveillance aircrafts to provide air space control over Afghanistan.

The aim had been to bolster the NATO mission in Afghanistan by improving military and civil air security.

Unlike German Air Force Tornado jets operating in Afghan mission, AWACS aircraft are fitted with long-range radar to detect other aircraft and prevent mid-air collisions. These aircraft can theoretically direct air combat operations.

Azerbaijan denied the reports Wednesday.

“Azerbaijan has cooperated and will cooperate with NATO as a part of the peacekeeping operations under the alliance’s aegis in Afghanistan,” Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Elkhan Polukhov was quoted by as saying on Wednesaday. His remarks came in response to comments that Azerbaijan was undermining NATO’s mission in Afghanistan by preventing the German mission from passing through its airspace.

Polukhov said that Azerbaijan had recently increased its peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan as part of its cooperation with NATO, adding that the “successful cooperation” is continuing with the alliance to date.


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