PM lashes out against Belarus after "political hijacking" of a plane: "This is unacceptable"
The forced landing of a Ryanair flight by Belarussian authorities and the subsequent arrest of a dissident journalist has prompted a lot of criticism in Europe and the U.S. The Belgian PM Alexander De Croo is not amused and labelled the Belarus action as "unacceptable". Sanctions may follow, such a ban on Belavia flights in Europe.
The commercial flight was operated by Ryanair and had more than 120 passengers on board. It was flying from Athens to Vilnius in Lithuania but was diverted to the Belarussian capital of Minsk yesterday when Belarus scrambled a fighter and flagged what turned out to be a false bomb alert to arrest a dissident journalist.
The news caused outrage at NATO, the United States and the European Union. The Belgian PM De Croo (Flemish liberal) made a clear statement today: "This is unacceptable. This is a political hijacking of a plane full of European citizens. It's a flight between two European capitals that was forced to land to carry out an illegal political arrest."
"Tonight, we have a European Council which must give a clear and unequivocal message. To me, it seems obvious that we look at international measures concerning aviation." The PM said that one option could be to deny the Belarus airliner Belavia access to European airports.
The Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès has summoned the Belarus ambassador in Brussels to discuss the issue.
Watch the Belgian PM's statement here: