France and Equatorial Guinea avoided a diplomatic crisis the unexpected outcome of which surprised many observers who expected more of a stalemate especially since it concerns security issues that have given rise to divergent interpretations on both sides. else. The “unauthorized” landing of a French army helicopter on July 27 in the city of Bata rekindled tensions between the two countries, especially since this “incident” occurred the day after the conviction in France in the case of “ill-gotten gains”, of the vice-president of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Mangue, also son of the head of state Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
“This incident, I regret it. It happened because of two technical mistakes on our part, and we have to admit that because we make mistakes. We are fortunate to have an annual overflight authorization. It is an honor and a gesture of friendship from Equatorial Guinea. But this authorization provides that notification must be given 72 hours before landing. For reasons of poor organization, this notification did not take place. There was a second error: the authorization we have, and which is there to allow our security forces to cooperate precisely, this authorization is for a certain number of aircraft identified with numbers ”, declared the ambassador. from France in Equatorial Guinea Olivier Brochenin. In the process, the French diplomat presented an “apology to the government and authorities of Equatorial Guinea, if ever these errors have given rise to misunderstandings” allowing the release of the six soldiers as well as the apparatus which had been immobilized.
The landing of this military helicopter had rekindled tensions between Paris and Malabo, as the six French soldiers who were on board the aircraft were arrested. After having immobilized the aircraft, the Equatorial Guinean government had notably indicated that “this helicopter did not have the authorization to fly over the airspace of Equatorial Guinea and even less to land at the airport. of Bata ”. It appears that the French army arbitrarily took the freedom to land “systematically violating the state border of Equatorial Guinea” which constitutes “a serious violation of international aeronautical standards, a direct provocation and an attack on security. national ”.
The pilots would have lied to the aviation authorities by asserting that they had authorization, a thesis refuted by Equatorial Guinea, specifying that no aircraft of the French army is on the list of the Ministry of Civil Aviation to fly over Equatorial Guinean airspace this year. According to the French authorities, “for technical reasons, the helicopter that was identified on this list had to be repaired and it was another helicopter that arrived in Bata. And it was a helicopter whose identification was not on the clearance list. ” The crisis is already a thing of the past, since the two states have indicated to continue and strengthen their cooperation, regardless of the angry issues where Paris and Malabo could hardly tune their violins.