Nations to uphold flight accord
BRUSSELS — Ten European Union countries on Friday expressed regret at U.S. plans to withdraw from an international treaty allowing observation flights over more than 30 countries and vowed to uphold the pact, as NATO envoys met to discuss developments.
President Trump said Thursday that Russian violations make it untenable for the United States to stay in the Open Skies Treaty. Washington has signaled that it will pull out in six months, although Trump hinted that he might reconsider the decision.
The treaty came into force in 2002. It was meant to promote trust between the U.S. and Russia by allowing signatories to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories to collect information about military forces and activities.
In a joint statement, the foreign ministries of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden said the pact “is a crucial element of the confidencebuilding framework that was created over the past decades in order to improve transparency and security across the EuroAtlantic area.”
They called on Russia to lift flight restrictions, notably over its Kaliningrad region, which lies between NATO allies Lithuania and Poland. Of the 10 countries, Finland and Sweden are not NATO members.
Earlier, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas acknowledged that Russia was not respecting the treaty, “but from our point of view, this does not justify a withdrawal.”