Military reconnaissance from direction of Gafan may be inevitable
A few days ago, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's decision on the operation of the unused airport in Gafan was not received unequivocally. The airport, which is only 105 meters away from the border with Azerbaijan, has caused serious concern both at the state and public level.
It should be noted that the violation of the Azerbaijani airspace by the planes flying from the airport caused serious dissatisfaction not only of the Azerbaijani side, but also of the Armenian society. It seems that when Pashinyan was considering some plan in his shallow mind, he forgot to consider the security aspects of it.
The prime minister's illogical decision has raised some questions in the society. For example, taking into account that the territory of Armenia is quite small, it may be considered inappropriate to fly from Gafan to Yerevan. Because mathematically, if we take the plane's take-off and landing, it is unrealistic for it to reach the destination earlier than 1 hour. However, it is possible to cover the same distance from Gafan by car in just 1 hour.
So the goal is different...
It is not accidental that many experts approach it in different ways.
Economist Eyyub Karimli is one of those who thinks that the airport will be used for military purposes. He told Azernews that the usage of the airport is not profitable for Armenia, otherwise Armenia would have launched it over 30 years.
Except for a short time in 2017, the Gafan Airport has never been operational since 1991. Taking into account that it takes 5 hours to go to Yerevan from Gafan, I do not think it is profitable from an economic point of view. Even I cannot understand why they need an airport for such a short distance. Therefore I think it has military and surveillance reasons rather than economic ones.If this airport is so important for Armenia, why was it not launched over 30 years? Why did Armenia make such a decision after Azerbaijan liberated its territories and restored the border with Armenia?" the economist said.
Saying that the airport does not have an international status, the expert also touched on the possibility of a small number of flights here.
"As Armenians noted, the airport is local, not an international airport, and the current economic situation of Armenia does not allow them to upgrade it to an international airport. Therefore, I think that we will not observe the implementation of regular flights. Because it is not economically profitable for the residents and for airline companies. Also, Gafan is an underdeveloped part of Armenia. That is, I do not think that anyone would pay a large amount of money to fly from Gafan to Yerevan," he added.
Discussing the military aspects of the issue, the expert Adalat Verdiyev had a slightly different approach to the Gafan airport. He highlighted the possibility that the airport will serve military rather than civilian purposes.
"Strategic objects built in areas close to the border must be agreed with the neighboring country. However, the airport was built during the USSR, and then there was no border issue, i.e. both Azerbaijan and Armenia were part of the Soviets. After collapsing of the USSR, Armenia has never used this airport. As for the question, currently, this airport can be used for military purposes, including landing and takeoff of unmanned vehicles. In any case, the aircraft landing and taking off at a distance of 105 meters from the border strip can be equipped with electronic optical means for surveillance, tracking, and reconnaissance. Therefore, it is quite possible that the Armenian side will use this airport against Azerbaijan for military purposes," he emphasized.
To recall, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been in a war condition over Garabagh since the collapse of the USSR. Armenia invaded 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including the territory which is at the border with the Gafan Airport, and kept it under occupation for over 30 years in the First Garabagh War that ended in 1994.
Moreover, Azerbaijan liberated most of its occupied territory in the Second Garabagh War in 2020.
Qabil Ashirov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @g_Ashirov
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