The European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament call on European Leaders for immediate sanctions against Lukashenko’s regime following yesterday’s hijacking of the Ryanair flight FR 4978 and the kidnapping of journalist Roman Protasevich and his partner. While the ECR Group expresses their support to the Belarusian people in their aspirations for democratic reforms, the sanctions should be tangible and of significant weight. By targeting state owned companies with economic sanctions, the regime should be directly hit.
ECR Co-Chairman Prof Ryszard Legutko said:
”We call for the immediate release of Roman Protasevich and an immediate international investigation. The fact that a flight between two EU countries was forced to stop under the pretext of a bomb threat is a serious interference with civil air traffic in Europe. Such an incident is highly concerning and cannot be tolerated. The EU must show a strong and united response to this case of state terrorism. Belarus can no longer be our international partner in air transport.
“It’s clear that all air connections to Belarus must be cut. Belarusian airspace is no longer safe. This also means no more flights to or from Belarus. We also call to close EU airspace for all Belarusian aircrafts and we urge the International Civil Aviation Authority to strip Belarus of its membership.”
ECR Co-Chairman Raffaele Fitto said:
“We also call on the European leaders to finally sanction Belarusian state-owned enterprises, which the U.S. has already put on its sanctions list. The incident shows that Lukashenko is taking all means in hand to cling to power.”
Anna Fotyga, ECR Coordinator in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, added:
“Belarus would not have hijacked this plane without Putin’s approval. We therefore must consider sanctions on Russia as well. However, we should not be tricked: Belarus’ actions may have been intended to drive Belarus away from Europe and closer to Russia. We must make it clear to the Belarusian people that we are on their side. We want to hit the Lukashenko regime, not the Belarusian people.
“The global aviation system is a core part of the international order created after the Second World War. Lukashenko and Putin are trying to test and undermine it. A weak response to any act of terrorism, including a state-sponsored one, will only encourage further aggression. I count on EU leaders and democratic partners do deter the two last dictators in Europe.”