European Union leaders are considering taking action against the Belarusian aviation sector, including coordinated airspace closure, as a first response to the incident recorded this Sunday on a Ryanair flight that forced Minsk to make an emergency landing around the Stop dissident Roman Protasevich.
Measures such as the closure of the airspace, restrictions on the Belarusian state airline and possible sanctions against those responsible for the incident will be on the table of the leaders of the 27 who will meet this Monday in a personal European council, according to diplomatic sources, those of Europe were consulted.
“Options include suspending Belarusian airspace to European airlines and sanctions against the Belarusian airline,” the sources say. The European bloc is already investigating the legal effects of a veto against the Belarusian state company and applying a ban on landing at EU airports.
Currently, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is monitoring the situation in Belarus from the point of view of aviation safety, although the question of airspace is the responsibility of each Member State and therefore all coordination measures are carried out under European level.
Since the incident involving the flight between Athens and Vilnius, the response has been clear. Member States such as Ireland have classified the incident as an “act of piracy”, while Lithuania has given assurances that Belarus will “close” the airspace to international flights.
Poland has led the heavy hand against Belarus and its Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has insisted on sanctions to respond to an act of “state terrorism”.
For his part, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has pointed directly to action against the airline Belavia, the Netherlands has asked to coordinate a “strong response” at European level, and Sweden and Germany have stressed that the incident will have consequences.
The Spanish government regards the behavior of Belarus as “absolutely unbearable” and has backed the EU’s common position that the episode must not remain without consequences.
The fourth round of sanctions against those responsible for the repression in Belarus is planned for this afternoon. The idea is to approve these restrictions, which affect individuals and organizations, as soon as possible for their application “as soon as possible,” according to the sources consulted.
The punitive measures were discussed in the internal bodies of the EU Council this month and are intended to respond to harassment by the opposition, journalists and social minorities in Belarus. Most recently, the siege has been carried out on the independent media Tut.by, who have suffered the arrest of 15 of their workers and are facing legal proceedings that must be closed.
At the moment, the EU is unanimous on how to respond to Minsk, and diplomatic sources hope that there will be no divisions within Europe based on the work done in the Council’s technical groups over the past few weeks.