Eurasianet.org covers an article (http://www.eurasianet.org/node/66409) on Khojali airport as an answer to the article titled “Azerbaijan Again Threatens Karabakh Flights” (http://www.eurasianet.org/node/66370) published in the same site. The article includes head of US Azeris Network (USAN) Adil Bagirov`s interview.
Note that, according to the claim of the article with the title of “Azerbaijan Again Threatens Karabakh Flights” Joshua Kucera, Azerbaijan threatened to shoot down flights to the newly built airport in Nagorno Karabakh in 2011, but had to “back down” by international “condemnation”. Referring to the representative of the Azerbaijan Military Air Forces, the article states that Azerbaijan is keeping under control the entire airspace, including the occupied regions and Azerbaijani Army has been placed on alert in order to prevent any attempt of the opposite side. The author also notes that “shooting down a civilian flight, it should go without saying, would be catastrophic for Baku`s international position”.
Head of US Azeris Network (USAN) Adil Bagirov highlights some issues in his “Would It Be Justified, Or Wise, For Azerbaijan To Shoot Down Karabakh Aircraft?”.
Bagirov states that “from the standpoint of law and even logic, there can be no civil aircraft that would be determined, in a non-emergency situation, to land at an airport in the Armenia-occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Any and all aircraft that willingly tries to fly into, and land in, the Armenia-occupied territories of Azerbaijan, such as into the Khojaly airport (a.k.a. Stepanakert airport, or Khankendi airport) is not a civilian aircraft, but a military aircraft that can be carrying military cargo and personnel, and thus can be legally shot down. That entire airspace over the occupied territories has been a publicly declared Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) since 1992. Azerbaijan has been very vocal in asserting its rights, put Armenia, as well as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the European Civil Aviation Conference (ICAC) on notice since 2010, and has specifically designated and publicly declared Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the entire area of Armenian occupation of the NK region and adjacent districts.”
Finally the author shows a range of examples of aircraft being shot down due to mistakes in their identification. He asks “thus, the right question would be - who in their right mind would want to fly into a warzone?!”
“Airports are regulated not only by domestic authorities, but also by international authorities, such as Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), that assign three-letter codes to them. Such three-letter codes are required for all legitimate airports, and the Khojaly airport (a.k.a. Stepanakert airport or Khankendi airport) does not have it. Also, airports have a much higher strategic value from the military standpoint - and are always among the very first targets in any airstrikes.
That is because they can move military cargo and personnel much faster than wheeled machines can on paved or unpaved roads. However, it is almost guaranteed that the Lachin road, that connects Armenia with the Armenia-occupied territories of Azerbaijan, including Nagorno-Karabakh, would also be among primary targets if the war escalates from the current low-intensity state”, Bagirov addes.