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MOSCOW, February 4. /TASS/. The Russian side plans to react to Turkey’s violation of Open Skies Treaty provisions and expects relevant reaction from other Treaty member states, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website.
The ministry recalled that under the Open Skies Treaty, Russian specialists were to have conducted on February 1-5 an observation flight above Turkish territory.
"The Turkish side agreed to receive the Russian observation mission within the mentioned timeframes. But upon the mission’s arrival at the entry point on Turkish territory, the Russian side-submitted plan of observation, which in particular suggested flyover of sections of territory adjacent to the border with Syria, was rejected," the statement said.
"No bans or restrictions for the use of airspace were published in official sources," it said.
The ministry said "this unprecedented step by Turkey contradicts one of the key goals of the Treaty - to contribute to a greater openness and transparency via confidence measures, whose importance, by the way, NATO likes to discuss."
"Besides, the Turkish side violated the key principle of the above-mentioned multilateral document - observation of any point on the territory of a state that is its member," the ministry said.
"We are convinced that Ankara had no right to deny us the holding of an observation mission over its territory and that the denial testifies to the desire of the Turkish side to hide some activity that probably is taking place in areas the Russian jet was to have flown above," the ministry said.
"The closure of the airspace occurred on a request from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, which suggests that the step has a political motivation," it said.
The ministry said that starting from 2013, Turkey "has repeatedly closed for Russian aircraft sections of its territory in the south of the country in the area of Patriot air defense systems positions, as well as in the area of NATO member countries’ aircraft deployment."
"In this way, as a result of systematic violations of the Treaty and unconstructive actions on the part of Turkey, a precedent is created when the observing side is not given the opportunity to control military activity of a member state," the statement said.
"Some colleagues in NATO do not avoid accusing Russia of ‘selective implementation’ of the Treaty. We recall in this connection that in 2014, during the acute phase of the conflict in southeast Ukraine, the Russian Federation gave unhindered access for groups on board observation aircraft of the member states to make sure that there is no ‘excessive concentration of Russian armed forces and military hardware’ in areas bordering Ukraine," the ministry said.
"NATO people were engaged in propaganda about that ‘excessiveness’," it said.
"The Russian side intends to react to violation by Turkey of Open Skies Treaty provisions. We hope for relevant reaction of other states members of the treaty," the ministry said.
The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 and has 34 member states. It entered into force in 2002. Surveillance flights are conducted over Russia, the United States, Canada and European countries.
The key tasks of the treaty are to develop transparency, monitor the fulfillment of armament control agreements, and expand capabilities to prevent crises in the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other international organizations.