On May 23, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez issued the 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.
According to the signers, using fighter aircraft to intercept a civilian Ryanair flight is’ an act of piracy’ on a route between two NATO and EU countries, which put the passengers and crew in grave danger.
“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 organisation 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,” the statement reads.
The heads of Foreign Affairs Committees called on NATO and EU member countries to put sanctions on the Lukashenka regime and suspend their ability to use Interpol and other international organisations to further attack democracy in Europe.
“Tyranny has no place in Belarus or in Europe. It threatens not only its own citizens but millions of others around the world,” they stressed.
The Western diplomats also called for free elections to be held in Belarus under the supervision of the OSCE as well as the immediate and unconditional release of Raman Pratasevich and all other political prisoners.