Foreign Minister condemns forced landing of plane by authorities in Belarus

The EU has decided to ban Belarusian flights from entering EU airspace and using EU airports.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has condemned the forced landing of a Ryanair plane by authorities in Belarus, saying that forcing a commercial airliner to land “without any reason whatsoever” was “unacceptable, especially since the airliner in question was travelling between two European Union countries”.

Speaking to MTI on the sidelines of an EU summit in Dublin, Minister Szijjártó welcomed that “the EU finally took united, swift, determined and forceful action. We are happy to see the fast decision making on response measures which we fully support,” he said. Belarusian authorities on Sunday intercepted a Ryanair airliner travelling from Athens to Vilnius, and forced it to land in Minsk citing a bomb threat. The airliner was accompanied by a Belarusian fighter jet to the airport, where a passenger, Belarusian opposition journalist Roman Protasevich, was arrested. Protasevich was a former editor-in-chief of Telegram channel NEXTA, which Belarus has declared extremist.

The EU decided at the summit on Monday to ban Belarusian flights from entering EU airspace and using EU airports, and called on EU airline companies to avoid Belarusian airspace. Further sanctions are in the pipeline.