Politicians across Europe condemn Armenian plans to reopen airport

Press Release: A threat by Armenia to reopen Khojaly Airport in the occupied Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh has unleashed a wave of protest from politicians across Europe and the political spectrum. French Senators, members of the German Bundestag, British Parliamentarians and members of the European Parliament have warned that the Armenian move is provocative, illegal, and threatens the already fragile peace process in the South Caucasus.

Their protests follow statements from the French, Russian and American Co-Chairs of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group, underlining Armenia’s international isolation. Espen Barth Eide, Norwegian Foreign Minister, who recently visited the region, said that: “Norway condemns carrying out flights from this airport. Armenia must not resort to provocative action.”

The European politicians are united in their opposition to statements made in the run-up to this month’s Armenian Presidential election by President Serzh Sargsyan, suggesting that Armenia will reopen Khojaly Airport in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is an internationally recognised part of the territory of Azerbaijan. The airport has remained closed since the Armenian occupation in 1992.

Armenia’s plans have provoked swift and broad opposition from key politicians in France, Germany, the UK and the European Parliament:

  • In France, four members of the Senate – Nathalie Goulet (Orne), Jean-Marie Bockel (Haut-Rhin), André Reichardt (Bas-Rhin) and Jeanny Lorgeoux (Loir-et-Cher) – have issued statements of concern.
  • In Germany, six members of the Bundestag – Axel Fischer, Marco Wanderwitz, Olav Gutting, Michael Glos, Florian Hahn and State Secretary, Katherina Reiche – have also raised concerns.
  • In the UK, politicians from all three main parties, both Houses of Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly – Christopher Pincher MP (Conservative), Mark Field MP (Conservative), Chris Heaton-Harris MP (Conservative), Stephen Hepburn MP (Labour), Lord German (Liberal Democrat), Lord Laird and Michael Copeland (Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly) – have criticised Armenia.
  • In the European Parliament, Kristiina Ojuland Liberal MEP has issued a strong condemnation, whilst three other MEPs – Evgeni Kirilov (Socialist), Ivo Vajgl (Liberal) and Norica Nicolai (Liberal) have tabled an urgent question on the subject.

Lionel Zetter, Director, The European Azerbaijan Society, said that the wave of opposition to Armenia’s threat from across Western Europe should act as a wake-up call to governments that there was a real danger of a rapid escalation of tension in the area, caused by an unravelling of efforts by the international community to peacefully resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He added that the Armenian moves demonstrated particular insensitivity, coming just weeks before the 21st anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre, when 613 of the local population were murdered by invading Armenian armed forces.

For more information, contact Lionel Zetter at TEAS (UK); tel: +44 (0)207 8081903; e-mail: lionel.zetter@teas.eu

Other TEAS offices:

TEAS Belgium; tel: +32 (0)2 550 34 31; e-mail: brussels@teas.eu

TEAS France; tel: +33 (0)1 70 91 72 84; e-mail: paris@teas.eu

TEAS Germany; tel: +49 (0)30 408 173 141; e-mail: germany@teas.eu