I would like to thank the President of the ICAO Council, Mr. Salvarore Schiacchitano, for his presentation.
France welcomes the decision of 18 July 2022 of the ICAO Council, as well as the resolution adopted by its Assembly during its 41st session, which recognize the responsibility of the Belarusian authorities in the diversion to Minsk of Ryanair flight FR4978 on 23 May 2021.
The facts are serious. The investigation conducted by ICAO has shown that Belarus organized a false bomb threat. The conclusion we draw from this case is extremely worrying: the Belarusian regime orchestrated the hijacking of a civilian plane with the sole purpose of arresting an opposition journalist, Mr. Roman Protassevitch, and Ms. Sofia Sapega. It did not hesitate to endanger the safety of the passengers and the personnel on board. France condemns this flagrant violation of international air law and this threat to the safety and security of international civil aviation. This is nothing less than an act of air piracy.
This irresponsible act is just one of the many manifestations of the Belarusian regime’s brutal crackdown on any voices of dissent since the rigged election in August 2020.
I also recall that a year ago, almost to the day, we were meeting in consultations following the instrumentalization by the Belarusian authorities of migrants at the European borders. Here again, Belarus did not hesitate to endanger the lives of vulnerable individuals for political purposes.
France also condemns the complicity of Belarus, whose territory continues to be used for missile and drone strikes against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
Falsification of the August 2020 elections, repression and stifling of civil society, hijacking of the Ryanair flight, instrumentalization of the migrant issue, participation in the war against Ukraine: Belarus is multiplying violations of international law.
France salutes the courage of the Belarusian citizens who have spoken out against the regime of Mr. Lukashenko. It calls on the Belarusian authorities to drop all legal proceedings against Mr. Roman Protassevitch and Ms. Sofia Sapega, as well as against all political prisoners held in Belarus.
France will continue to support the Belarusian people in their democratic aspirations.