BAKU, STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources)—Official Baku on Wednesday renewed its threat to down civilian planes from Stepanakert, saying that its earlier policy was still in force.
Speaking at a press conference, the director of Azerbaijan’s State Civil Aviation Administration Arif Mammadov in reiterating earlier statements on downing planes said “This is the right of the Azerbaijani side, according to the law on aviation. Whether this right will be implemented or not — the government will decide,” reported the APA News Agency.
Mammadov also announced that the CIS Interstate Aviation Committee would not grant an approval certificate to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to operate the Stepanakert airport.
Mammadov asserted that the chairman of the Interstate Aviation Committee made such a promise during his visit to Baku in May.
“The chairman promised that the Interstate Aviation Committee will not perform any work without the consent of the Azerbaijani side,” said Mammadov. “IAC will not provide Stepanakert a certificate, and if any states operate flights to Karabakh, economic sanctions will be imposed on them.”
“Even if Armenia applies, the certificate will not be granted,” added Mamedov.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Civil Aviation Administration director, Dmitry Atbashyan, was quick to respond citing that Ercan airport situated in unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has an international airport status despite it being an unrecognized entity.
“It is not clear if the TRNC airport has a certificate for operating flights,” he said. “If Ercan airport has a certificate, the International Aviation community would apply double standards by not providing a similar certificate to Stepanakert airport.”
Atbashyan also explained that a certificate was necessary only for airports that have an international status.
“We do not strive to achieve a status international airport status thus far,” said Atbashyan, who warned Mammadov to not speak on behalf of the IAC.
When Stepanakert announced in February its intention to open the airport, Azerbaijan swiftly responded by a threat to down civilian planed. In March, President Sarkisian said that he would be the first passenger of a Stepanakert-Yerevan flight and said that such Azeri threats were “more characteristic of terrorists and not states.”