Foreign Minister Maas made the following comments today (21 May) on America’s announcement that it intends to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty:
I very much regret the announcement by the US Administration that it intends to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. This pact is an important element of Europe’s arms control architecture. It contributes to peace and security across almost all of the northern hemisphere. We understand that there have indeed been difficulties with respect to implementation on Russia’s part. However, from our point of view that does not justify withdrawing from the Treaty. I and my counterparts in France, Poland and the UK have repeatedly informed US Secretary of State Pompeo that this is our position.
The withdrawal of the US from the Open Skies Treaty would greatly reduce the treaty’s area of application and the entire treaty regime would be weakened. The decision announced by the US Administration is due to take effect in six months. We will use this time, together with like-minded partners, to encourage the US government to rethink its decision. We call on Russia to resume full implementation of the Treaty. Our course of action is clear. We will continue to adhere to the Treaty and will do everything we can to preserve it. I am in close contact with my European counterparts on this issue. We are closely coordinating our response to the present situation.
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.