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Latvian Foreign Minister: airlines should stop using Belarus' airspace

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs told Latvian Television May 24 that airlines should stop using the airspace above Belarus, among other steps to be taken.

The minister said the first step would be broader sectoral economic sanctions, the second step - to stop using Belarusian airspace for international flights, but the third step could be to stop servicing and hosting Belarusian airlines, particularly the national airline Belavia.

Rinkēvičs said that on Sunday he discussed this issue with the President of Latvia, Egils Levits, who will encourage the Baltic States to “raise this issue in international organizations, up to the UN Security Council”.

“Because we have in fact faced state-ordered air piracy, which many call even an act of terrorism. This is already a threat to international security and order,” said Rinkēvičs.

As LSM reported earlier, on Sunday, a flight operated by Irish carrier Ryanair from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land at Minsk, reportedly to seize a prominent opponent of self-declared Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. It is still unknown what exactly happened prior to landing, and civil aviation services have launched an investigation.

A change to President Levits' schedule showed he was due to discuss the matter with his Estonian and Lithuanian counterparts Monday morning via live videolink.

In a statement released Monday, Latvian airline airBaltic said it had already routed flights around Belarusian airspace. However, its website was still showing it was possible to book flights to Minsk this week.

 

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