appeared in "Trust and Verify", VERTIC , London 1997
Arbeitsgruppe für Naturwissenschaft und Internationale Sicherheit (CENSIS)
On June 17 and 18, 1997 Hungary (as a lead nation) and Romania performed
two joint Open-skies trial flights over Bosnia and Hercegovina.
This was one of the voluntary confidence building measures foreseen under
Article 2 of the Dayton Agreement. It involved representatives of the State
of Bosnia and Hercegovina and from the three ethnic "entities" as well
as international observers. Aerial photographs taken from military sites
of the three entities were shared among them. It was the first time since
NATO took over control of the airspace over Bosnia that aerial photographs
of their mutual territories became available to the parties. The flights
were carried out in a cooperative atmosphere. It is expected that further
Open-Skies trial flights over Bosnia will follow during this year, carried
out by Romania and potentially also the United States and Germany as lead
nations. This might pave the way for a more permanent Open-Skies regime
for the region.
It is little known that a bilateral Open-Skies Agreement between
Hungary and Romania is successfully in force since 1992. In contrast,
the multilateral Open-Skies Treaty, which has 27 state parties,
still waits for entry into force. The pending ratification procedures in
the Ukrainian Rada and the Russian Duma are hoped to take place this fall.
Many previous hopes in this direction failed. However, there are some positive
indications: The Russian Ministry of Defense gave the go-ahead - after
a standstill of more than one year - for a new round of bilateral trial
flights under the rules of the Treaty. On the Ukrainian side their Open-Skies
aircraft, a twin engine Antonov 30 with a flight range of less than 1500km,
was taken to the United States earlier this year. This flight required
a spectacular "island-hopping" with four stopovers. It covered US sites
on the East Coast including Cap Canaveral.
Beyond the Northern Hemisphere the Open-Skies idea is taking ground in South America. The United States have been promoting the idea in a tacit but persistent way. It was agreed to display the US Open-Skies aircraft at a major airshow in Santiago de Chile in March 1998, concurrent with a meeting of the Latin American Defense Ministers. The US will also offer to bring their Open-Skies aircraft to all capitals interested. South American Defense Ministers have declared confidence building measures to be among their priorities. It is said that at least four or five South American states are interested to consider bilateral or trilateral Open-Skies arrangements with their neighbours.