Military officials from part of the Open Skies Treaty countries released 500 balloons on Heldenplatz in the Vienna city center on Monday to commemorate the upcoming 500th flight under the Treaty.
The 500th Open Skies flight will take place at the end of this month. It allows its 34 State Parties, which are also OSCE participating States, to carry out unarmed observation flights over each other's territories.
"Through the effective, successful conduct of these hundreds of flights, we have collectively built more confidence together than the treaty's authors could have envisioned," said Hugh Neighbour, Chairman of the Vienna-based Open Skies Consultative Commission which implements the Treaty.
The Open Skies Treaty entered into force in January 2002 and covers territory from Vancouver to Vladivostock. It is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of their sizes, the possibility to obtain information on military or other activities of concern to them.