The ban on Belavia, tough sanctions and other retaliatory measures against the actions of the Belarusian authorities to hijack the Ryanair airliner were included in the draft resolution approved by all the leaders of the European Union.
The heads of state and government of the EU accuse the Lukashenka regime of “State hijacking” aircraft for the arrest of dissident journalist, opposition blogger Roman Protasevich. After a two-hour high-level discussion in Brussels, the summit participants took a political decision, demonstrating a common position and unanimity. The main provisions of the resolution:
Call for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to promptly investigate the unacceptable forced landing incident. Adopt additional lists of organizations and individuals as soon as possible, based on the existing sanctions regime, for targeted sanctions. Recommendations for EU-based air carriers to refrain from flying over Belarus. Taking the necessary measures to close Belavia’s access to European airports and blocking flights of Belarusian airliners in EU airspace. Demanding the immediate release of 26-year-old opposition blogger Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapieha, who flew with him. Ensuring their free movement and safety. Expression of EU solidarity with Latvia regarding the unjustified expulsion of Latvian diplomats from Belarus.
The details of the decisions of the summit participants were presented to journalists at a press conference by Baren Leits, the press secretary of the President of the European Council, having shown a copy of the resolution.
Now a number of organizational and legal issues have to be promptly resolved. The EU Council needs to ensure that Belarusian airlines are legally prohibited from using EU airspace, both for transit and for flights to European airports. That is, for Belavia, the western direction will be closed, only flights to mainly Russian airports will remain available. Ukraine, as it became known, also imposes a ban on flights to Belarus. Great Britain did the same.
For European airlines, a legal ban on flying in the airspace of Belarus is not imposed, however, there are strong recommendations to avoid such situations. However, some countries have already made this decision and banned flightspassing through Belarus.
It will take some time to develop a new package of sectoral economic sanctions against Belarus. It is interesting that the decision to introduce them was not initially included in the draft; it appeared as a result of the tough position and debates of the summit participants. It is not yet clear which industries will be subject to sanctions. However, it is already known that tough measures have been taken against the Belarusian aviation industry.
According to the procedures in force in the European Union, in order to implement the decisions of the summit, a decision must be made by the EU Council, formed of ministers from all member states. However, with the consent of the EU leaders, this procedure usually takes place without delay.