The European Union has called for an international investigation into the forced landing of a Ryanair plane in Minsk, as EU leaders are set to discuss additional sanctions against Belarus at a summit starting in Brussels on Monday.
“In carrying out this coercive act, the Belarusian authorities have jeopardized the safety of passengers and crew,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.
“An international investigation into this incident must be carried out to ascertain any breach of international aviation rules,” he added.
Relations with Russia, climate change and vaccine certificates – these are the main, long-planned topics of the two-day summit in Brussels starting on Monday evening.
On Sunday, the head of the European Council, Charles Michel, added Belarusian affairs to the agenda of a meeting of EU leaders after the forced landing of a plane flying from Athens to Vilnius, prompted by Minsk. A well-known opposition blogger Raman Pratasevich, who published information about the abuses of the Belarusian regime was on board. After landing in Minsk, the journalist, wanted by the Minsk authorities, was arrested. The hijacking of the plane was condemned by the heads of EU institutions and European politicians, as numerous appeals for sanctions from many EU countries, including Poland, were made.
Very concerned regarding reports of a forced landing of #Ryanair flight in Minsk.
We call on Belarus authorities to immediately release the flight and all its passengers.
An #ICAO investigation of the incident will be essential.
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) May 23, 2021
According to the sources of the Brussels correspondent of Polish Radio Beata Płomecka, it appears that several possible restrictions will be considered, namely the suspension of EU flights over Belarus, and a ban on landing in EU territory for Belavia airlines, the Belarusian national carrier. There was also a proposal for the EU to suspend road transit of goods through Belarus, and to impose economic sanctions.
The aforementioned solutions have been put forward separately from the fourth sanctions package on Belarus, on which work is already underway, caused by the repression of citizens, including the Polish minority in Belarus. The package proposes an extension of the black list with a ban on entry to the EU and blocked assets in Europe.