Belarus - Declaration by Jean-Yves Le Drian (24 May 2021)


I spoke this evening with Ms Svetlana Tikhanovskaya following the diversion yesterday by the Belarusian authorities of a Ryanair commercial flight and the arrest of Mr Roman Protassevich and Ms Sofia Sapega upon arrival in Minsk.

France condemns these acts most firmly. They are a serious and illegal violation of international civil aviation safety and of European security interests, concerning the diversion of a flight operated by a European airline between two European Union capitals, primarily transporting nationals of European Union Member States. These acts are also a further serious violation of the rights of the Belarusian people in the context of the indiscriminate repression deployed by the regime.

As such, I confirmed to Ms Tikhanovskaya the determination of the French authorities to take action to bring about a united, firm European response, in accordance with the European position since the beginning of the Belarus crisis in August last year. This response now needs to involve strong additional sanctions against the Belarusian regime. The design of these measures is the subject of discussions between European Heads of State and Government, in the framework of the European Council meeting that began this evening.

We call for the immediate release of Mr Protassevich and Ms Sapega, as well as of the political prisoners arrested and detained arbitrarily in Belarus.