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France and Turkey negotiate flying rights 28 mars 2007

Posted by Acturca in France, Turkey / Turquie.
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Turkish Daily News

March 28, 2007 Wednesday

Turkey has cancelled the bloc authorization over flying rights it gave to France after the French National Assembly endorsed a law criminalizing denial of Armenians claims of genocide, diplomatic sources told the Turkish Daily News. Until last December France used to get a yearlong bloc authorization for its military aircraft flying over Turkish territory. However, following the decision of the French National Assembly last October, Turkey did not extend the authorization for the year 2007. The decision is part of the Turkish military’s policy on suspending relations in the military field.

The Turkish army was one of the institutions showing the strongest reaction to France. Relations with France in the military field were suspended immediately after the decision on October 2006 and French firms were blacklisted. Both France and Turkey are members of the NATO military alliance and Turkey is a market for French made weapons.

French military aircraft use Turkish airspace, especially for its contribution in the NATO operation in Afghanistan. Approximately 700 French soldiers are deployed in Kabul where the French military shares the rotating command of the multinational forces with Turkish military.

Hence, French military aircraft flying to Afghanistan over Turkish airspace are affected most by the decision on not extending the bloc authorization. « The decision makes the French military’s life more difficult, » said a diplomatic source familiar with the issue. With the bloc authorization, it suffices for the aircraft to notify its intention of using the airspace; without it, the aircraft has to wait for the permission of the Turkish side to use the airspace. « This obviously makes the French military quiet nervous; since they prefer to plan everything in advance, » said an official, emphasizing that the authorization to use the airspace comes at the last minute and that this procedure creates complications, especially during emergencies. However, with one or two exceptions, the necessary authorization was given on each request. Diplomatic sources told the TDN that talks are underway to solve the problem; with Paris apparently making the point that a NATO operation is being harmed by Turkey’s stance.

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