The Western powers that are members of the UN Security Council have asked ICAO to investigate the circumstances of the forced landing of a European airline plane at the Minsk airport.
The UN specialized agency that sets international civil aviation standards is launching an investigation into the circumstances of the forced landing of a Ryanair plane at the Minsk airport and the detention of a Belarusian opposition journalist who was on board the airliner, representatives of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said on Thursday.
The statement said that the ICAO Council “decided to investigate to establish the facts” of the incident.
The meeting of the ICAO Council spoke about “the importance of establishing the facts of what happened and understanding whether any member State of ICAO violated international aviation law.”
The Council “requested the ICAO Secretariat to prepare an interim report,” which will be presented at the next meeting of the organization.
The actions of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who sent a fighter jet to intercept a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius last Sunday, caused outrage in the international community. 26-year-old opposition journalist and political activist Roman Protasevich and his 23-year-old girlfriend Sofia Sapega were on board the plane.
Protasevich’s parents appealed on Thursday to the international community for help in his release. The leaders of the Group of Seven countries demanded that Lukashenko release the detainee, and the head of the EU foreign policy body threatened Minsk with economic sanctions.
ICAO, of which Belarus is a member, does not have the authority to declare sanctions. However, European leaders this week agreed to suspend air traffic with Belarus and recommended that airlines do not fly into the country’s airspace.
The meeting of the ICAO Council was held on Thursday after the Western powers in the UN Security Council called on the agency to investigate the incident. Earlier, a similar call to ICAO was made by the NATO bloc. However, the fact that Russia, which has the right of veto in the UN Security Council, supported the actions of Minsk means that the Security Council is unlikely to issue a collective statement condemning the actions of Belarus.