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Mali denounces the violation of its territory by a French plane. The minister kicks in touch (v4)

(B2) Asked about Mali's denunciation of " manifest violation from its airspace by a French military aircraft type A400M (registered F-RBAN) towards Gao which “ both cut off his transponder so as not to be identified and cut off his means of communication With Malian air traffic control, the French Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly skillfully kicked into touch.

An ECOWAS decision that does not apply to military flights

The decisions, " taken by ECOWAS on Sunday to close airspace are not intended to apply to military flights », she indicates. And to add: “ We have therefore established contacts for this purpose with the authorities competent. Objective apparently: to clarify the possibility of military flights for French planes.

An official press release

The Malian government (of the military junta) issued a communicated quite unusual on Wednesday (January 12). The Malians did not hesitate to indicate that the theft was detected using “ recently acquired aerial detection capabilities ". Without citing the origin of these abilities. But everyone could have understood that they could be Russian.

A usual procedure

Everyone knows that military planes flying to Mali cut off their transponders for security reasons. And the Malian authorities, more than anyone. Point that B2 was able to confirm with a senior officer. The crew “ filed a flight plan validated by the Malian authorities and the off transponder is " a usual procedure above the operating fields “, indicates our interlocutor.

The 2013 agreements still in force

The agreements concluded in 2013 at the start of Operation Serval “ are still valid », specifies our interlocutor. In concrete terms, they define the rules for French travel in Mali. This is so, according to our reading of the SOFA agreement (status of forces) signed with Bamako which applies. Thus, it is stipulated that the French personnel engaged within the framework of the military operation “ travels without restriction on the territory of the Republic of Mali, including its airspace, using the means of transport available to him and without having to request support from the forces of the Malian Party ". The document clearly indicates that these provisions are applicable “ until the end of the missions of the French detachment and its complete and definitive return to the territory of the French Republic ».

… but until when ?

At the end of December, the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs sent to the French embassy in Bamako a request to revise the amendment signed in 2014, indicates our interlocutor. Discussions are ongoing. They are managed by the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

A rather unusual gesture

This gesture is therefore eminently political. This is a no-cost warning in Paris. In response to the ECOWAS sanctions, which Paris approved, failing to have initiated them, but also to the Europeans who would be tempted to follow them. It remains to be seen what the next step will be.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde, in Brest, with Helen Chachaty in Paris)

Updated with transponder cut-off technical data, 2013 traffic terms agreements and document revision request

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).