By Shakeh Avoyan
The US-led anti-terror coalition has not used Armenia’s airspace since the launch of its air strikes on Afghanistan Sunday, but will likely be allowed to do so if necessary, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian said on Thursday.
“We have not received such a request yet,” Sarkisian told reporters in Yerevan. “If we do receive it we will almost certainly give our permission.”
Yerevan granted US military aircraft use of Armenia’s airspace late last month, and says the Americans made used of that permission shortly afterwards. US warplanes made the overflights as part of preparations for the retaliatory attacks on suspected terrorist camps in Afghanistan. Armenia and neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan provide an important corridor to Central Asia for US troops stationed in Turkey. Some of them have already been deployed in Uzbekistan, the main regional power bordering on Afghanistan.
Sarkisian spoke to journalists on his return from the Tajik capital Dushanbe where he attended a meeting of top security officials from Russia and five other former Soviet republics linked by a common defense treaty. The situation in Afghanistan was the main focus of the meeting.
Armenia Monday voiced its support for the start of the US-led strikes, indicating that they are a necessary measure against the threat of international terrorism facing “the entire civilized world.” The foreign ministry said it received “evidence” from the US government showing a link between Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden and the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.