The leaders of the 27 agreed on Monday to close airspace on Belarus and prepare further sanctions to economically stifle the Alexander Lukashenko regime in response to the air incident in which Minsk forced a Ryanair flight to make an emergency landing to arrest a Belarusian dissident.
In the conclusions adopted by the European Council, the heads of state and government condemn the “unacceptable” episode that “endangers aviation safety” and demand the immediate release of journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner Sofia Sapega.
In response to the conflict caused by Minsk, the heads of state and government are calling for the “necessary measures” to prevent Belarusian airlines from flying over the air and landing at EU airports.
They are also calling on European airlines to avoid flying over the country and calling on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to investigate the consequences of the air.
With regard to European sanctions, the Heads of State and Government mandate the individual sanctions against those responsible for authoritarian emigration in Belarus to be expanded and call on the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, to investigate new sanctions in order to address the issue Attack economic sectors of the regime.
In addition, the leaders of the 27 have shown their solidarity with Latvia for the “unjustified” expulsion of all of their diplomats in Belarus in retaliation for the removal of the official Belarusian flag during the ice hockey world championships.
The measures against Belarus were adopted in line with the proposals of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, who managed to achieve unanimity “quickly”, reported Community sources, who affirm that the European response is in line with one Maneuver “strong” is that put Ryanair ticket “in danger”.
Tensions with Belarus peaked this Sunday after the forced landing of a flight covering the route between Athens and Vilnius forced by the Belarusian authorities. Prepared for the meeting, European leaders understood that it was necessary to take tough measures to respond to an unprecedented act and that some leaders did not hesitate to call it “state terrorism” and ” Kidnapping “.
The outcome of the discussion was announced after just two hours of closed session, which the Heads of State or Government have alone and without mobile devices to ensure the confidentiality of the debate.
The crisis in the former Soviet republic goes back to last August. The fraudulent elections gave Lukashenko a sixth term and were criticized by the EU, with the support of Russia. In this context, the European bloc has passed three rounds of sanctions and has 88 officials of the Belarusian leadership and seven units on its blacklist.