ANKARA: Albania Tells Azerbaijan It Will Stop Arms Sales


Today’s Zaman, Turkey
Aug 2 2007

Albania assured Azerbaijan on Wednesday that it will take every measure
to stop the sale of weapons to countries in a state of conflict, after
Turkey sent back a shipment of Albanian weapons bound for Armenia.

"The Albanian government will use its authority with the utmost
seriousness to take all necessary measures to prevent the sales
of weaponry to countries in a state of conflict," Albanian Foreign
Minister Lulezim Basha said. Basha made the pledge in a telephone
conversation with his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mamedyarov, a foreign
ministry statement said.

Last week Turkey stopped and sent back to Albania’s Durres port
60 containers with weapons destined for Armenia, which denied it
had bought weapons from Albania. Armenia and Azerbaijan are in a
state of conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh,
a mountainous region located within Azerbaijan’s internationally
recognized borders. It broke away from Azerbaijani control during a
war in the 1990s and has declared independence, though this has not
been accepted internationally.

The head of Albania’s state-owned weapons firm said he had sent the
shipment because there was no embargo on arms sales to Armenia, press
reports said. Albania has been selling off its stock of Soviet-era
weapons that were either imported from China or produced domestically,
including an aging fleet of MiG airplanes.

Azerbaijan told Albania it considered the sale an act against
Azerbaijan and asked the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
to intervene on its behalf with fellow member Albania.