Hungary has joined the European Union in condemning the actions of Belarus, imposing sanctions on its regime and banning Belarusian travel over the EU’s airspace. The harsh actions were incurred after the Belarusian state redirected a Ryanair flight for the sake of arresting a government critical journalist who was onboard.
The tyrannical actions of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko have been made brazenly clear after what EU leaders called the “hijacking” of a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania on Sunday.
Dangerous and Unlawfully Forced Landing of Ryanair Flight
Just before the plane, flying to Lithuania from Athens, had left Belarusian airspace and reached its destination of Vilnius, it was forced to land, accompanied by a fighter jet, because of a fabricated bomb threat sent by Belarus.
Upon landing in Minsk, the panicking passengers were left on the plane, as Raman Pratasevich, a dissident journalist, was arrested and escorted off by police. Obviously, no explosives were found on the plane.
Raman Pratasevich is a 26-year-old Belarusian journalist and activist who was the former chief editor
of the Telegram channel “Next,” as well as the Telegram channel “Belarus of the Brain.” He has been targeted as a foe of President Alexander Lukashenko for his influence over last year’s mass protests in Belarus.
EU Bans Belarus from its Airspace
Since the incident, the European Union has agreed to impose sanctions on Belarus, banning its airlines from entering the airspace and airports of all 27 nations. EU leaders also demand the release of Pratasevich.
Stefano Sannino, the head of the European External Action Service (EEAS), explained to Aleksandr Mikhnevich, Belarus’ envoy to the EU, that the European Union considers Belarus’ action to be “another blatant attempt to silence all opposition voices in the country.”
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen called for the immediate release of Pratasevich and said that the European Union will put pressure on Belarus until it “finally respects the freedom of media, the freedom of press, and the freedom of opinion.”
USA and NATO Voice Condemnation, Hungary Supports Belarus Ban
The United States has also joined in the condemnation of Lukashenko, describing the incident, as well as the following video of Pratasevich which he “appears to have made under duress,” to be “shameful assaults on both political dissent and the freedom of the press.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance was monitoring the landing of the flight closely, and that it “is a serious & dangerous incident which requires international investigation.”
Foreign minister Szijjártó condemns Ryanair forced landing in Belarus
There had long been no official Hungarian statement on the issue. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán brought up his trip to the meeting in Brussels multiple times before and after but did not mention the issue in Belarus once.
Atv.hu asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about Hungary’s stance on the issue, to which they responded that “Hungary joined the union’s statement put forth on the issue in question. The statement therefore mirrors our nation’s stance as well.”
Later on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó also condemned the forced landing of a Ryanair plane by authorities in Belarus, saying that forcing a commercial airliner to land “without any reason whatsoever” was “unacceptable, especially since the airliner in question was travelling between two European Union countries”.
Speaking to MTI on the sidelines of an EU summit in Dublin, Szijjártó welcomed that “the EU finally took united, swift, determined and forceful action. We are happy to see the fast decision making on response measures which we fully support,” he said.
In the featured photo: Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko. Photo by MTI/EPA/BelTA/Maxim Guchek