Several countries of the European Union, including Belgium, Poland and the Czech Republic, called the ambassadors of Belarus in their capitals as the first gesture of protest after Alexander Lukashenko’s regime forced an Irish Ryanair flight to land in Minsk on Sunday Arrest of a dissident journalist, Roman Protasevich.
“The unjustified and unacceptable acts committed in the last few hours will not remain without consequences. Protasevich must be released immediately,” wrote Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès on her Twitter account when she announced the appointment of the Belarusian ambassador.
Wilmès used the message to reaffirm “support for the democratic aspirations of the Belarusians”, a confirmation that will also be passed on to the invited diplomats.
For its part, the Czech Republic has called on the Belarusian ambassador to the country, Valery N. Kurdyukov, to convey to him the “firm protest” for an action that could violate international civil aviation law and “cannot go unanswered” from the Czech Foreign Ministry in a statement reported.
“The Czech Republic will insist on a full international investigation into this serious incident, which threatened the lives of passengers and crew, and which the Belarusian authorities used to prosecute one of their critics,” the same statement said.
Poland was another Member State that had previously responded by summoning the Belarusian Chargé d’Affaires to its territory immediately to communicate the “firm protest” against the forced landing of the Ryanair flight.
The incident was immediately condemned by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the executive director of the Community, Ursula von der Leyen. They announced that the reaction of the European Union will be examined this Monday at the summit meeting in Brussels heads of state and government of the EU, because it is an “unacceptable and illegal” event, which “cannot remain without consequences”.
EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell issued a statement on behalf of the 27 condemning what happened, calling for an international investigation to clarify violations of international law and calling for the imprisoned journalist to be released immediately.
“By carrying out this coercive act, the Belarusian authorities have endangered the safety of passengers and crew members,” said the head of European diplomacy, who has indicated that the EU will examine sanctions against those responsible.