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Former ambassador: Legal methods exist to prevent Khojaly airport operations (UDPATE)

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Materials 18 January 2013 17:09
There are legal methods to block operations of the Khojaly airport, former U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, ex-co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Matthew Bryza believes.

Details and background were added (the first version was posted at 16:39)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan.18 / Trend, E. Mehdiyev /

There are legal methods to block operations of the Khojaly airport, former U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, ex-co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Matthew Bryza believes.

"Azerbaijan has a right to defend its territorial integrity under international law," Bryza told journalists in Baku on Friday commenting on Armenia's plans to open the airport in Azerbaijan's occupied territory.

"Of course, issues surrounding the airport in the occupied territories can lead to the escalation of tension around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. However, this issue like other related problems can be resolved by the OSCE Minsk Group, as I said before as U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan and the OSCE Minsk Group's co-chair," he said.

As for the preparation of an agreement between Russia and Armenia on military-technical cooperation, he stressed that it is a logical step, as Russia has a military base in Armenia.

"However, on the other hand, the question arises, how will this decision affect Russia's image as the OSCE Minsk Group's co-chair," Bryza said.

He said the main thing is that everything should be transparent and all co-chair countries should be aware of what is going on between Russia and Armenia.

Earlier, Armenian media reported on the commissioning of the airport in Khojaly.
Commissioning the airport in Khojaly s an open violation of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the Azerbaijani foreign ministry reported earlier.

Azerbaijan has banned the use of the airspace of Nagorno-Karabakh occupied by Armenia, as no one can guarantee a safe air corridor in the area, the head of the Azerbaijani Civil Aviation Administration, Arif Mammadov said earlier.

He said Armenia's steps directed towards use of Khojaly airport are attempts to violate international legal norms. That air space belongs to Azerbaijan, therefore its use by Armenia is impossible.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the European Civil Aviation Conference (ICAC) also support the position of Azerbaijan on this issue.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France and the U.S. - are currently holding peace negotiations.

Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.

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