Belgium said international sanctions against Belarus over the grounding of a civilian flight should be “swift and severe” as EU leaders gathered to discuss airspace restrictions on top of other punishments.
EU leaders, as well as the US, strongly condemned Belarus over Sunday’s incident during which Minsk scrambled a warplane and forced a Ryanair jetliner to land to arrest a dissident, Roman Protasevich, who had been on board.
“The reaction should be swift and be severe,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo told journalists.
He said a fourth package of EU sanctions aimed at Belarus and targeting the financial sector should be brought forward and the bloc “should also do something related to civilian aviation”.
Three Baltic states said Belarusian airspace should be declared “unsafe” and the EU should close its airspace to Belarusian flights.
Poland wants to suspend all flights between the EU and Belarus until Protasevich walks free.
Summit chairman Charles Michel said the incident was “an international scandal” and hope the 27 would agree sanctions on Monday, which require unanimity of all EU countries and often take weeks to prepare.
A Latvian airline, airBaltic, became the first to announce it would no longer use Belarusian air space, while France and Ireland said air traffic restrictions could be part of the EU’s response.
Source: Civil Aviation Authority – Qatar