YEREVAN (PanArmenian.net)—Prior to the scheduled opening of the Stepanakert airport, Armenia and Azerbaijan must resolve the flight safety issue, US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza said Tuesday.
“I uphold the position of the U.S. leadership, which believes that the sides should come together and discuss these issues before the airport is opened in Stepanakert,” Bryza told reporters. “We think that the details can be worked out.”
Azeri threats to shoot down planes bound for Stepanakert do not frighten Karabakh, said David Babayan, head of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic presidential press service.
“The threats are proof of the medieval psychology prevalent in Azerbaijan. Those who issue them do not simply lack in self-confidence, but openly support Nazi values,” added Babayan. “The international community must adequately respond to such criminal statements.”
“Azerbaijan aims to scare the people of Artsakh from using the airport and its services. We are determined to open the airport, no matter whom it upsets in Azerbaijan. Any slight attempt by Azerbaijan will be fraught with unpredictable repercussions for Azerbaijan itself,” stressed Babayan.
Baku has threatened to shoot down civilian planes flying to Karabakh after the reopening of the Stepanakert airport. Baku’s state aviation agency said it has informed the International Civil Aviation Organization that the region’s airspace was closed and any flights would be unauthorized.
“According to the law on aviation, it is even possible to physically destroy airplanes which are heading there,” Arif Mammadov, director of Azerbaijan’s Civil Aviation Administration, said in comments to local media. “We asked the ICAO to notify the opposing side in order to prevent such incidents.”
Stepanakert airport will be ready for operation in May. “The airport’s terminal is ready. Currently, the tower is under construction,” said Dmitry Atbashyan, head of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic department of civil aviation. “The airport will be well equipped. Young specialists are being trained to assume duties by the opening date.”