President Gitanas Nausėda is attending a special meeting of the European Council in Brussels. The first day of the meeting was dedicated to a strategic debate on EU-Russia relations and the EU’s response to the assault committed by the Belarusian regime.
The President briefed European leaders on unprecedented incident in the international civil aviation: two Belarusian military aircraft – fighter MIG-29 and helicopter Mi-24 – had forcefully landed a passenger Ryanair plane in Minsk to arrest Belarusian journalist and political opponent Raman Pratasevich.
“We see it as a state-sponsored terrorist attack against the international community, which endangered the lives of the citizens from 18 countries. The EU has responded quickly and strongly, sending a signal that such and similar attacks on EU citizens will not be tolerated. At the same time, we urge the regime to immediately release journalist Raman Pratasevich and his friend Sofia Sapega,” the President said.
President Nausėda put forward a proposal and the European Union decided to initiate an independent inquiry by the International Civil Aviation Organization, declare Belarusian airspace unsafe and ban Belarusian airlines from flying in EU airspace. “The international community took urgent action against the regime, giving a strong response to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” the President said.
According to the President, the incident has demonstrated the unpredictability of the Belarusian regime and its readiness for anything. It is also a serious signal to the international community regarding the unsafe Ostrovets nuclear power plant. As part of the European Council decisions adopted in December 2020, the European Commission should draft as soon as possible an assessment of EU measures to prevent electricity produced by unsafe nuclear power plants from entering the EU’s internal market.
On EU-Russia relations, the President stressed the need for a united, principled, and value-based EU position in the absence of change in Russia’s aggressive posture.
Gitanas Nausėda invited EU leaders not only to continue the policy of five guiding principles in EU-Russia relations, but also to consider additional measures if Russia’s actions remain aggressive.