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MOSCOW, April 21. /ITAR-TASS/. The US stance on Open Skies Treaty is “highly non-constructive”, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday, April 21, commenting on the US decision to cancel an observation flight over Russia.
“These costs were incurred mainly by engaging our resources for providing practical support to the mission,” he added.
“We have to state with regret that the American side, the only of the parties to the Treaty on Open Skies, has long been adhering to a highly non-constructive position on the examination of our digital observation equipment by putting forth requirements that are not provided for in the Treaty,” the spokesperson said.
Moscow hopes that “the implementation of the Treaty will be safeguarded against the negative impact of considerations of expediency and that its members will strictly abide by their obligations,” Lukasehvich said.
The Treaty on Open Skies entered into force on January 1, 2002, and currently has 34 States Parties. It establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants. The treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them. Open Skies is one of the most wide-ranging international efforts to date promoting openness and transparency of military forces and activities.
The 34 State Parties to the Open Skies Treaty are: Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States. Kyrgyzstan has signed but not yet ratified it. Canada and Hungary are the depositories of the treaty in recognition of their special contribution to the Open Skies process. “Depository” countries maintain treaty documents and provide administrative support.
The treaty is of unlimited duration and is open to accession by other States. States of the former Soviet Union that have not already become States Parties to the treaty may accede to it at any time. Applications from other interested States are subject to a consensus decision by the Open Skies Consultative Commission (OSCC), the Vienna-based organization charged with facilitating implementation of the treaty, to which all States Parties belong. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe meets monthly at its Vienna headquarters. Eight states have acceded to the treaty since entry into force: Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Estonia, and Lithuania.