Feb 04, 2016

Tanju Bilgiç, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, responds to the issue of the Open Skies treaty observation flight over Turkey that could not be conducted by the Russian Federation.

The Treaty on Open Skies, envisaged as a confidence and security building measure in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), was opened for signature in 1992. Currently 34 states, including Turkey are parties to the Treaty, which establishes a regime that permits State Parties to conduct aerial observation flights over the territories of other State Parties in accordance with distributed quotas.

Observation flights are performed when the observing Party and the observed Party reach agreement on the mission plan. In the case of the observation flight requested by the Russian Federation for 2-5 February 2016, agreement could not be reached on the mission plan, and the flight has thus not been conducted.

The limitations imposed by the Russian Federation on observation flights over its own territory is already known by all State Parties to the said Treaty. On the other hand, the observation flight of the Russian Federation in Turkey in December 2015, was conducted on the basis of mission plan changes as suggested by Turkey.

As for statements attributed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov by Sputnik news agency seeks to distort the fact that Russian aircraft has violated Turkish airspace, this issue simply concerns violation of Turkish airspace by Russian Federation aircraft. It has nothing to do with the Coalition's operations in Syria.

The Russian Federation has been in a state of denial of facts the international community knows as well as in self-contradiction since the incident of shooting down of the Russian aircraft after violating Turkish airspace on November 24, 2015. After having initially claimed that there was no violation of Turkish airspace, Russian Federation was not able prove its claims and hid behind the pretext that the aircraft’s black box was damaged. The Russian Federation has employed the same tactics following the last violation on January 29.

Minister Lavrov’s allegation that Turkey did not share any information is also totally unfounded. The military attaché of the Russian Federation in Ankara was summoned by Turkish authorities following the violation of our airspace. He was duly informed of the violation and issued necessary caution and appropriate warning.

It is our sovereign authority based on international law to act on violations of our airspace, take necessary measures on and appropriately respond to such violations.

The Russian Embassy in Ankara has been made aware in no uncertain terms of our warnings that continued violations of Turkish airspace would lead to certain consequences for which the Russian Federation would bear full responsibility.

We continue the same calm stance today that we have maintained since the beginning of this problem despite the smear campaign and provocation by Moscow since November 24. Taking this opportunity, we once again reiterate our call to resolve the current tensions through dialogue.

– Tanju Bilgiç, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey