BAKU: DM Ivanov denies Russian, US plan to use radar station

Defense Minister Ivanov denies Russian, US plan to use radar station

AzerNews, Azerbaijan
May 27 2004

On Friday at a news conference in Yerevan, Russian Defense Minister
Sergey Ivanov refuted the reports that Russia and the United States are
planning to use the Gabala radar station. An agreement on the status,
principles and terms of use of the Gabala station was concluded by
Russia and Azerbaijan

in Moscow on January 25, 2002. In compliance with the agreement,
the station is owned by Azerbaijan, and Russia leases the property
for 10 years. The agreement also stipulates that the station will
be used by Russia only for information and analytical purposes. The
use of the Gabala station “will not be used directly or indirectly
against the sovereignty and security of the Azerbaijan Republic”,
the document reads.

Commenting on the recent Azerbaijani media reports on Russian military
personnel of Armenian descent serving at the Gabala station, Ivanov
said Russia is a multi-national country and that the Russian army
includes officers of various nationalities, including Azerbaijanis.

Parliament to reconsider Russian use of Gabala radar station Opposition
MP Mais Safarli recently brought up the issue of Armenian officers
being involved at the Gabala radar station and stressed the importance
of taking measures in this respect. Safarli said the issue will be
reconsidered at the next Milli Majlis (parliament) session and the
parliament administration demanded that a decisive stand be taken on
the matter. “I raised the issue in a recent Milli Majlis session. As
far as I know, there are currently over 30 Armenian military personnel
at the station, which jeopardizes Azerbaijan’s national interests”,
he said. Safarli stated that Baku should demand the withdrawal
of Armenian military personnel from the Gabala station. He said
that Azerbaijan reserves the right to reconsider the terms of the
inter-governmental agreement envisioning the use of the facility by
Russia. Political scholar Zardusht Alizada stated that according to
the existing agreement between Russia and Azerbaijan, both Russian
soldiers and civilians work at the station. “Under the inter-state
protocol, Azerbaijan must guarantee their safety. The agreement
does not exclude service by Armenian military personnel at the
station, as this would contradict international legal norms”, Alizada
said. From this standpoint, Azerbaijan should not oppose the service
of Armenian officers at the Gabala station, he concluded. The Gabala
radar station was built in 1984 to monitor launch of inter-continental
ballistic missiles and flights on almost all types of aviation in the
Southern hemisphere. The station was actively used for radio-technical
intelligence during the Iran-Iraq war in 1980s, the Persian Gulf
War, and during anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. The Gabala
station is an important part of Russia’s missile defense system.