YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—The Armenian Foreign Ministry confirmed on Wednesday reports that Turkey has refused to allow a German military transport aircraft to fly over its airspace en route to Armenia.
The plane was due to pick up Armenian soldiers and transport them to Germany for further training preceding their deployment in Afghanistan.
Some 120 Armenian servicemen serve in Afghanistan under German command as part of a NATO-led multinational force. The Armenian military rotates them on a regular basis.
The German magazine “Der Spiegel” reported on Friday that the Airbus 310 aircraft of the German Air Force was on its way to Yerevan in late July when Turkish air traffic controllers unexpectedly refused, without any explanation, to give it overflight permission. The plane had to return to a German military airfield as a result, it said, adding that the Armenian soldiers were flown to Germany over Russia’s airspace in mid-August.
“As far as I know, the Defense Ministry did not refute that information,” said Anna Naghdalyan, the spokeswoman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry.
“It is condemnable that Turkey now also obstructs NATO-led and UN-led peacekeeping operations based on its anti-Armenian positions,” Naghdalyan told reporters. “We have raised this issue with our international partners through diplomatic channels.”
Ankara has not denied the “Der Spiegel” report. According to the report, the German military, the Bundeswehr, regards the Turkish move as a “deliberate provocation” by a NATO member state.
The German plane was reportedly not allowed to fly over Turkish territory just days after the outbreak of heavy fighting on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan, Turkey’s closest regional ally. Ankara blamed Yerevan for the week-long hostilities, which left 17 soldiers dead, and voiced support for Baku in unusually strong terms.
The Armenian government responded by accusing the Turks of trying to destabilize the region, undercutting international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and posing a serious security threat to Armenia.