May 23, 2021

Chairman Menendez and European Allies Condemn Lukashenka Regime for Intercepting Civilian Flight to Arrest Journalist

Jersey City, N.J. – U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) issued the following joint statement with his counterparts in the Czech Republic, Latvia, Germany, Lithuania, Ireland, Poland, and the United Kingdom condemning the Lukashenka regime for forcefully landing a Ryanair flight to arrest journalist Raman Pratasevich:

“We, the chairs of our respective national parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committees, condemn unequivocally the threat of violence used against a civilian aircraft in the skies over Belarus. Using fighter aircraft to intercept a civilian Ryanair flight is an act of piracy on a route between two NATO and EU countries. This reckless act put the passengers and crew in grave danger. It is a reminder of the illegitimacy of the administration claiming authority in Minsk.

We call for an immediate inquiry to be held by the International Civil Aviation Organisation into this clear violation of free transit between states and the threats to the aircraft.

Until ICAO has reported, we call for Belarus to be suspended from the organization and a ban on all overflight of Belarus including flights to and from the country. It is clear that the current administration in Minsk has no respect for the safety of our citizens and cannot be trusted to defend their rights. This act of state terror and kidnapping is a threat to all those who travel in Europe and beyond. It cannot be allowed to stand.

We call on NATO and European Union States to put sanctions on the Lukashenka regime and suspend their ability to use Interpol and other international organisations to further attack democracy in Europe. We call for free elections to be held under the supervision of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Raman Pratasevich and all other political prisoners.

Tyranny has no place in Belarus or in Europe. IT threatens not only its own citizens but millions of others around the world.”

This statement was issued by:

Senator Bob Menendez,

Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Senate, United States

 

Senator Pavel Fischer

Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security

Senate, Czech Republic

 

MP Richards Kols

Chair Foreign Affairs Committee

Seimas, Republic of Latvia

 

Norbert Röttgen MdB

Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs

Bundestag, Federal Republic of Germany

 

┼Żygimantas Pavilionis MP

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee

Seimas, Republic of Lithuania

 

Charlie Flanagan TD

Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence

Ireland

 

Senator Bogdan Klich

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee

Parliament, Republic of Poland

 

Tom Tugendhat MP

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee

Parliament, United Kingdom

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