Position of the Republic of Lithuania regarding the forced landing of Ryanair flight in Minsk on 23 May 2021


2021 05 24


On 23 May 2021, a Ryanair plane (flight No. FR4978) flying from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land at Minsk Airport. It is reported that 123 passengers were on board, including 94 citizens of the Republic of Lithuania. It is assumed that this is a well-planned operation by the special services of Belarus (KGB) to arrest Belarusian journalist and opposition activist Raman Pratasevich at the airport, who is on the regime’s list of extremists and might be facing the death penalty. Sofia Sapega, a citizen of the Russian Federation and an EHU student, was arrested at the same time. Given that these actions have compromised the security and life of EU citizens and civil aviation, as well as violated the fundamental rights of travellers to liberty, we propose to supplement Lithuania’s position and present it at the European Council and the EU Foreign Affairs Council, as follows:

  1. To assess the deteriorating security situation in the region as a result of the actions of the Belarussian regime.
  2. To consider the decision of Minsk to forcibly land a plane flying to Vilnius as an act of state terrorism against the security of citizens of the European Union and other countries, representatives of civil society of Belarus seeking asylum from the regime’s persecution, as well as international civil aviation.
  3. To call upon the EU’s partners and NATO allies in responding immediately to the threat posed by the regime of Belarus to international civil aviation. To introduce a ban for EU airlines to fly over Belarusian airspace.
  4. To ban Belarusian airlines from flying to EU member states. To include the Belarusian state-owned company Belavia in the EU’s fourth package of targeted sanctions, banning it from using EU airspace.
  5. To call on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to immediately carry out an international investigation of the incident of 23 May 2021. Also, to propose to suspend Belarus’ membership in the ICAO for the period of the investigation.
  6. To call on the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to take a decision on the unreliability of Belarus’ air traffic control services.
  7. To adopt as soon as possible the complete fourth package of targeted EU sanctions, additionally listing all the persons and organisations responsible for this act, and to start work on the fifth package of targeted EU sanctions against the EU-exporting regime-related companies and individuals who contributed to the hijacking of Ryanair’s plane.
  8. To call on the EU Member States to discontinue the European Union’s sectoral cooperation, technical and financial assistance instruments, and other cooperation programmes with Belarus implemented by Belarusian national and local authorities, without the European Commission imposing any financial corrections on EU member states and legal entities operating therein.
  9. To call on the international financial institutions (EBRD, WB, IMF, etc.), EU member states’ financial and export credit and guarantee institutions and agencies to discontinue the funding, guarantee, and assistance mechanisms for public projects in Belarus that directly or indirectly benefit Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.
  10. To take joint action in the United Nations, NATO, G7, and other international organizations and formats to assess the threats posed by the regime of Belarus and to release political prisoners.