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What may Yerevan intend by opening idle airport in Gafan?

19 August 2023 08:30 (UTC+04:00)
What may Yerevan intend by opening idle airport in Gafan?
Elnur Enveroglu
Elnur Enveroglu
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Armenia, which caused serious discussions on the agenda regarding the risks of environmental hazards, as a result of the construction of an illegal metallurgical plant again attracted public interest with the next provocative act. It goes without saying that since the conversation is about Armenia, there is almost no benefit in speaking according to the laws. But it is worth talking about the topic in more detail.

Of course, we are talking about an inactive and abandoned airport, which is a few tens of meters away from the border of Armenia with Azerbaijan. The airport has not been carrying out any flights for a long time, even after the Second Garabagh War, no strategically important buildings were built in the areas close to the conventional borders, since the border delimitation and demarcation works were not completed. In addition to the fact that the airport in question is only a stone’s throw from the territory of Azerbaijan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's announcement of the operation of the airport posed some serious questions.

So now the government of Armenia has made new dreams and decided to start regular flights from Yerevan to Gafan starting next week.

The question is how Armenia will be able to manage the take-off and landing process of the plane from a distance of several hundred meters on the border with Azerbaijan... There is a clear answer to this question: the planes flying from the airport to Gafan will definitely violate the airspace of Azerbaijan.

Another issue is the current military-strategic positions of the Azerbaijani border troops in the area, which require an absolute distance between Armenia and Azerbaijan according to the border rules. However, despite this, Armenia once again ignores and grossly violates international laws regarding inter-country borders.

Azerbaijan is certainly well aware of Armenia's goal in opening the airport. By the way, recently, a number of large-scale construction works carried out by Azerbaijan in the Garabagh Economic Region and East Zangazur, including the return of the former IDPs to their native homes, did not escape the attention of the Armenian Prime Minister. Even the processes worried him a little or may be a bit more. During an interview with the Euronews channel, Pashinyan even expressed in a certain way that he was worried about the acceleration of the Great Return project. Perhaps the Armenian Prime Minister had some words about the airport in Zangilan, but even if he could not express them, today we can see bare results of what was left inside him.

First of all, when Azerbaijan was building the Zangilan airport, it chose a location at a considerable distance from the border, took into account the possible wind force that could affect the route, and thereby eliminated the risk of aircraft flying into the territory of Armenia.

As for the operation of the airport in Gafan, there are serious reasons to believe that under the guise of "civilian" Armenia will try to use this airport for military purposes. Of course, if the rapid construction works in Garabagh and East Zangazur disturb Armenia, Yerevan does not want to remain unaware of them. In any case, seeing the prosperity of the territories it once occupied is beyond the reach of the marauding Armenians, but even watching Azerbaijan from the sky is like finding water in the desert for the Yerevan authorities.

As for the pretext of opening the airport for civilian purposes, it is important to consider certain procedures. First of all, it should be noted that the Gafan airport operated at a time when today's independent states were once a single territory belonging to the former Soviet Union. However, there are also border and cross-border airports in Europe, which could be not correct to compare with a country like Armenia.

For instance, Geneva Airport, also known informally by its old name Cointrin, is entirely on Swiss soil, but only just. The edge of its runway skims the French border. The sharp right-angle turns that the border takes along the airport’s perimeter are, in fact, not random.

When in the 1950s Swiss authorities wanted to extend the airport’s runway the only feasible option was to do so over French territory.

The matter was sorted by the signing of an international treaty by which France and Switzerland exchanged plots of territory of equivalent size.

Another example of cross-border airports in our civilized world is about Cross Border Xpress (CBX), where a wall runs along large sections of the US-Mexico border. What is less known, though, is that at one particular point you can walk over it – provided you have a boarding pass. However, it is still safe as it is regulated by legislation – despite it is pan-European or bilateral.

In the case of the Gafan airport, there are no agreements with Azerbaijan. The matter is that the construction of an airport a few dozen meters from the border of another state with which Armenia does not have a peace agreement is nonsense.

Besides, from Azerbaijani positions, one can even consider what is happening inside this airport. Until now, the opening of the airport has been postponed several times in Armenia "due to the security situation."
In a nutshell, Armenia's unilateral provocative steps, such as the opening of the Gafan airport, will not go unanswered. Azerbaijan will not allow violations of its own airspace, and therefore the Gafan airport will suffer the fate of Khojaly - it will remain a museum exhibit.

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Elnur Enveroglu is AzerNews’ deputy editor-in-chief, follow him on @ElnurMammadli1

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