Russia is breaking international aviation law
By Salome Modebadze
Friday, April 23“All the agreements and resolutions made by the United Nations concerning illegal flights on Abkhazian territory are still in force,” Head of the United Transport Administration of Georgia Levan Chichinadze told the Russian media at a special briefing on April 22. His comments came after the Russian Government had given Babushera Airport in Abkhazia a Russian individual identification code.
Summarising the results of negotiations with Karsten Theil, head of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)'s European and North Atlantic Regional Office in Paris, Chichinadze said that ICAO fully recognises territorial integrity and full airspace of Georgia. “ICAO won’t be granting an international individual code to Babushera Airport without the Georgian Government’s permission. It is up to the Georgian Government alone whether to allow international flights to be made from Abkhazia or not, and no flights from Babushera can even be imagined under any other circumstances,” Chichinadze said. Karsten Theil reminded Chichinadze that ICAO removed the individual code for Babushera Airport in 2006, as demanded by the Georgian Aviation authorities, and hasn’t even made any notes on this issue since then.
Batu Kutelia, Georgia’s Ambassador to the US, conducted the negotiations with ICAO concerning the illegal cooperation between the Sokhumi regime and Russia on transport issues. He demanded sanctions against air companies conducting flights on the occupied territories. Under international law the airspace of occupied Abkhazia is part of Georgia's airspace and therefore making flights in any direction through this airspace without the permission of the Georgian authorities is strictly prohibited. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia has given ICAO a special note asking it to take relevant measures to address these violations.
Irakli Giviashvili, Head of the Georgian Foreign Ministry's International Relations Department, said at a joint meeting of Parliament's Foreign Relations and Territorial Integrity Restoration committees that Russia is violating the Chicago International Convention, which could lead to the suspension of Russian’s right to vote in the ICAO Assembly. He highlighted that the Foreign Ministry has already asked ICAO respond to the violatons of Georgian airspace and make a legal assessment of them.
As negotiations are still continuing, officials and analysts were unable to comment by the time of going to press.