ECAC seeks re-opening of Nagorno-Karabakh airspace

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European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) president Alfredo Roma intends to convene a high-level meeting between Armenia and Azerbaijan in October to discuss measures to re-open airspace over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh to civil air transport.

Azerbaijan is currently negotiating to become the 39th ECAC member state with the aim of joining the organisation in December this year. But the state is still deadlocked with neighbouring Armenia – already an ECAC member – over control of the semi-autonomous Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Armenia has had a long-running claim on the Azerbaijan-controlled region and this simmering dispute escalated into armed conflict 13 years ago, generating a massive refugee crisis.

ECAC’s effort to find a solution to the airspace closure follows an official visit to Armenia last week by Roma which included a meeting with Armenian prime minister Andranik Margaryan in the capital Yerevan, during which the parties talked about the general state of Armenian civil aviation as well as Azerbaijan’s application for ECAC membership.

“The parties discussed also the issue of re-opening of the airspace over Nagorno-Karabakh for flights of civil aircraft,” says an ECAC statement. “It was agreed that positive solutions to all issues in the spirit of mutual understanding and co-operation would significantly contribute to the further development of air transport in the region in an efficient and harmonised way.”

ECAC is planning to bring the Azerbaijani and Armenian civil aviation authority chiefs together at its Paris headquarters to seek a resolution to the airspace issue.