Russia to perform observation flights over Turkey

Russia to perform observation flights over Turkey

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Russia to perform observation flights over Turkey Russia is due to conduct an unarmed observation flight over Turkish territory following the normalization of relations between the two countries, a Turkish diplomatic source said Oct. 24.      

The surveillance flights scheduled for this week are part of the 1992 Open Skies Agreement under the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.      

Turkey has already performed three observation flights over Russia this year, the last one in September, the source added.      

The flights over Turkey will be the first ones to come amid normalized relations between the two countries, which were embroiled in conflict over the shooting down of a Russian warplane in November 2015. Turkey says the jet violated Turkish airspace along the Syrian border but Russia has denied this.

A previously agreed program of flights scheduled for early February failed to take place due to a lack of agreement on the mission plan, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.      

On Nov. 24, 2015, Turkish F-16 fighters on aerial patrol intercepted and shot down a Russian SU-24 after it ignored warnings and crossed into Turkish airspace, leading to heightened tension between Moscow and Ankara.      

The issue seemed largely resolved on June 29 through a letter by the Turkish president to his Russian counterpart and subsequent telephone calls between the countries’ leaders.      

The Open Skies Agreement was signed on March 24, 1992, in Helsinki. Turkey became one of the 34 state parties to the treaty after signing it in 1994.