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Switzerland regrets that its fighter plane bothered Russians onboard Geneva-bound flight

The Swiss authorities have expressed regret via diplomatic channels that the incident with Swiss fighter plane F/A-18 that approached the plane carrying Russian parliamentary delegation on October 19, Switzerland's Federal Department of Foreign Affairs official spokesperson Jean-Marc Crevoisier told TASS on Wednesday.

"We informed the [Russian foreign] ministry about the procedure that we have. We explained it. If anyone from those aboard the plane experienced anxiety or shock, we regret about it," Crevoisier noted. He added that Switzerland's Ambassador to Moscow Pierre Helg sent an explanatory note to the Russian Foreign Ministry. "The note states that this [Swiss fighter plane approaching foreign civil aircraft] is a normal procedure and that Switzerland regrets if anyone was anxious or shocked," Crevoisier added.

Switzerland considers the incident to be a closed issue. "This issue is closed for us. [Russian foreign] ministry asked us to provide explanations. We provided explanations," Crevoisier said.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that Moscow was expecting from Bern and Paris explanations through diplomatic channels over the incident with the plane of Russian State Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin. "We must bring the issue to a conclusion with both the French side and the Swiss side. We have to listen to the explanations of the French side, just as the Swiss side. We need to figure out what it was, why this was done," she said.

Russia's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday presented resolute protest to Swiss Ambassador to Moscow Pierre Helg over the incident with Russian plane carrying a Russian parliamentary delegation and called on Bern to refrain from such risky actions.

"In connection with the October 19 incident when a Swiss fighter plane F/A-18 closely approached a Russian plane carrying a Russian parliamentary delegation led by speaker of the Russian State Duma [lower parliament house] Sergey Naryshkin, who were to take part in the 133rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva, in Swiss airspace over the city of Biel, the Russian foreign ministry made an official representation to Swiss Ambassador to Moscow Pierre Helg," the ministry said.

"Resolute protest was presented to the Swiss diplomat over 'air police' control of the Russian civil plane by the Swiss air force, of which the Russian side was not informed in advance," the ministry said. "Attempts made by some Swiss officials to present the incident as a routine control procedure or as 'escorting the Russian plane as a manifestation of hospitality' for the Russian parliament look unconvincing. In any case, such steps should be agreed in advance."

"Taking into account the fact that Switzerland has expressed its regret, we call on Bern to refrain from such risky incidents and not call to question the country's reputation as a venue for major international events," the ministry said.

[Source: Itar Tass, Geneva, 21Oct15]

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