September 29, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
tel: (202) 775-1918 / (703) 585-8254 cell


Calls for End to Aliyev Threats against Armenia and Karabakh

WASHINGTON, DC — House Foreign Affairs Committee senior member Brad Sherman (D-CA) has welcomed news of the impending opening of the Stepanakert Airport in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, and called on Azerbaijani authorities “to guarantee it will take no violent actions against flights into Artsakh,” reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

In a September 28th statement, Rep. Sherman referenced a pattern of threats by the Azerbaijani government to shoot down civilian aircraft to and from the Karabakh airport and called for immediate U.S. action including to “cut off all aid, arms transfers and to downgrade relations with Azerbaijan’s military.”

“We applaud Rep. Sherman’s principled position in support of the opening of the Artsakh airport, which will serve as an important lifeline for the Nagorno Karabakh Republic to the world as Azerbaijan continues its 24-year blockade and ongoing threats and attacks against Armenia and Karabakh,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We look forward to the opening of the airport and to the travel, tourism and economic opportunities it will bring to the burgeoning Artsakh Republic.”

The Stepanakert Airport was originally built in 1974 and primarily served flights from Yerevan and Baku. The airport had remained idle since 1992. In 2008, Karabakh authorities began renovation of the airport, including the construction of a new main building, which resembles an eagle with opened wings, and the widening of runways to accommodate modern aircraft. Azerbaijani authorities have repeatedly threatened, as recently as July of this year, to shoot down civilian aircraft headed toward Karabakh. These threats along with other statements of aggression and attacks against Armenia and Karabakh have been documented by the ANCA and available here.

The full text of Rep. Sherman’s statement welcoming the impending opening of the Karabakh airport is provided below.


Statement by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) on the Impending Opening of the Karabakh Airport

“The airport’s opening is a testament to Nagorno-Karabakh’s desire for prosperity and peace. I congratulate the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on the impressive renovation and imminent re-opening of the airport in Stepanakert.

A direct air link with Yerevan will strengthen the Republic’s efforts to build a brighter future for its own people.

I know that the opening has been delayed several times, as Azeri officials have threatened to shoot down civilian planes traveling to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Nagorno-Karabakh has persevered notwithstanding these threats. I have called on the U.S. government to cut off all aid, arms transfers and to downgrade relations with Azerbaijan’s military. At a minimum, the Azeri government must guarantee it will take no violent actions against flights into Artsakh, cease other threats against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and bring to justice the vicious murderer Ramil Safarov before relations with the United States improve.”

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