Russia to perform observation flights over Turkey

– ‘Open Skies’ surveillance flights come amid normalized relations between the two countries

– Russia is due to conduct an unarmed observation flight over Turkish territory amid normalized relations between the two countries, according to a Turkish diplomatic source on Monday,reported Anadolu Agency.

The surveillance flights scheduled for this week are part of the 1992 Open Skies Agreement under the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

Turkey has already performed three observation flights over Russia this year, the last one being conducted in September, the source added.

The flights over Turkey will be the first ones to come amid normalized relations between the two countries, which were embroiled in conflict over the shooting down in November 2015 of a Russian warplane which violated Turkish airspace along the Syrian border.

A previously agreed program of flights scheduled for early February had failed to take place due to a lack of agreement on mission plan, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

On Nov. 24, Turkish F-16 fighters on aerial patrol intercepted and shot down a Russian SU-24 after it ignored warnings and crossed into Turkish airspace, leading to heightened tension between Moscow and Ankara.

The issue seemed largely resolved on June 29 through a letter and subsequent telephone calls between the countries’ leaders.

Putin gave his support to Turkey during the July 15 coup attempt and said he stood by the elected government in Ankara, offering his condolences to the victims of what Erdogan called the “most heinous” armed coup attempt in modern Turkish history.

The Open Skies Agreement was signed on March 24, 1992 in Helsinki, Finland. Turkey became one of the 34 state parties to the treaty after signing it in 1994.