Statement of the Foreign Ministries of Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden:
We regret the announcement by the US Government of its intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, although we share their concerns about implementation of the Treaty clauses by Russia.
The Open Skies Treaty is a crucial element of the confidence-building framework that was created over the past decades in order to improve transparency and security across the Euro-Atlantic area.
We will continue to implement the Open Skies Treaty, which has a clear added value for our conventional arms control architecture and cooperative security. We reaffirm that this treaty remains functioning and useful. The withdrawal becomes effective within six months.
Regarding issues on Treaty implementation, we will continue to engage Russia as was previously decided among NATO Allies and other European partners to address outstanding issues such as the undue restrictions to flights over Kaliningrad. We continue to call on the Russian Federation to lift these restrictions and continue our dialogue with all parties.
The Treaty on Open Skies was concluded in 1992 and entered into force in 2002. It permits the 34 states parties to conduct observation flights over each other’s territory and thereby contributes to transparency and confidence-building and the cooperative security of all participating states. The Treaty creates the only arms control regime that covers the entire territory of both the US and Russia. Since its entry into force, a total of over 1500 observation flights have been flown.