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European Council

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Questions (355)

Brendan Smith


355. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the issues discussed at the recent European Council; if the interception of a flight (details supplied) over the air space of Belarus was discussed; and if so, the outcome of such discussions. [29032/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

On 24 May EU leaders discussed Belarus, Russia, relations with the UK, and the situation in the Middle East and in Mali. The coercive forced landing of a Ryanair flight over Belarus to detain a journalist and opposition activist featured prominently during those discussions. The Taoiseach communicated clearly Ireland’s view that a strong EU response is needed.

EU leaders called for the immediate release of Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega, and for an urgent investigation by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Leaders also agreed on introducing new sanctions, including economic sanctions, calling on airlines to avoid Belarussian airspace and commencing work to ban Belarussian airlines from EU airspace. Work on operationalising these concrete steps has already commenced and Ireland is working closely with the EU and Member States to that end.

Relations with Belarus were discussed at an informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers on 27 May and the next steps in implementing the steps agreed by European Leaders were considered with a clear consensus on the need make rapid progress.

Ireland has rejected the false narrative of the Belarusian Government and Minister Ryan called for a transparent and independent investigation during a special International Transport Forum meeting on 27 May. ICAO has since confirmed that they will investigate the incident and Ireland fully supports this decision. Along with our EU and international partners we will remain focused on ensuring that those responsible for endangering the passengers and crew, and for the ongoing repression in Belarus, are brought to account for their actions.