• Thursday, 18 April 2024

Lavrov's plane flies over Turkey and Greece en route to Skopje, Bulgaria bars overflight due to Zakharova's presence onboard

Lavrov's plane flies over Turkey and Greece en route to Skopje, Bulgaria bars overflight due to Zakharova's presence onboard

Moscow, 30 November 2023 (MIA) - The plane by which Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Skopje to attend the OSCE Ministerial Council, has flown over Turkey and Greece, although it was originally planned to fly over Bulgaria, Russian media report. The change in the flight route has been put in place as Bulgaria has refused to open its airspace due to Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova's presence onboard. The flight has lasted more than five hours. 


A note from the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, seen by Russian media, reads: "The permission is granted to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the accompanying delegation for the participation in the Skopje meeting <…>. This permission does not apply to Russian Foreign Ministry’s Information and Press Department Director Maria Zakharova who is on the EU sanction list".  


"We are not just talking about stupidity, but about the dangerous stupidity of some intriguer in the power structures of Bulgaria," Zakharova has posted on the Telegram platform. 


"The fact is that the rules of air traffic are regulated by the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944. It prescribes that the territory of a country should be understood as "land territories and adjacent territorial waters". Airspace is not included in the concept of "territory". In this regard, even without this, the illegal sanctions of the European Union cannot be extended to the flight by plane of a person who is prohibited from entering the territory of the state," Zakharova's post reads. 


According to her, for the first time in history, official authorities have forbidden not a plane, but a person in the plane, because according to the note of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, overflight has been allowed for the plane of the Russian Foreign Ministry. 


Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in North Macedonia late Wednesday to take part in the OSCE Ministerial Council. 


The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted on its official X account, formerly known as Twitter, photos of Lavrov's arrival at the Skopje International Airport, where he was welcomed by Russia's Ambassador to North Macedonia, Sergey Bazdnikin. 


Lavrov arrived after the informal dinner of foreign ministers participating in the OSCE Ministerial Council. 


The Russian Foreign Minister's participation was uncertain due to international sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, but after Bulgaria temporarily suspended the airspace sanctions and allowed overflight for the Russian aircraft, and the EU said it would not violate the sanctions, Moscow confirmed that Lavrov will arrive in Skopje.  


Due to Lavrov's attendance, Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, the Foreign Ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -  Margus Tsahkna, Krišjānis Kariņš, and Gabrielius Landsbergis, respectively, as well as Poland's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, have decided to boycott the Skopje event.


Photo: X account (former Twitter) of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs