Sassoli on forced Minsk landing: response must be strong, immediate, unified 

 
 
David Sassoli at the summit  

David Sassoli called for a strong EU response to Sunday’s forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk and the immediate release of those being held by Belarus.

The President of the European Parliament made the appeal at the start of the European Council on 24 May. In his speech to EU heads of state and government, he said; “An international investigation is undoubtedly needed to verify whether air transport and passenger safety was jeopardised by a sovereign state and if there has been a violation of the Chicago Convention.


“Our response must be strong, immediate and unified. The European Union must act without hesitation and punish those responsible. Tonight you have a great responsibility to show that the Union is not a paper tiger.”


Regarding climate change measures, Sassoli warned that Parliament could not be expected to simply rubberstamp the conclusions of the European Council: “As far as we are concerned, Parliament is working to reach an ambitious climate and energy package before summer, with a strengthened emissions exchange system and more ambitious targets on renewable energy and energy efficiency.”


The President praised the recent agreement on the European Covid-19 certificate, which will make it easier for people to travel safely through Europe. “For Parliament, the certificate cannot be a condition for free movement. We also clearly indicated that no one must be discriminated against due to health conditions or health choices and we want only necessary data to be included in the certificate.”


Although the vaccination campaign in the EU is progressing swiftly, Sassoli stressed the importance of helping beyond the bloc’s borders by exporting vaccines and providing doses to low and medium income countries. He also supported the mandatory sharing of licenses to help boost production in these countries.


Turning to migration, he said the EU has a legal and moral obligation to save lives and added that people should be able to arrive in the EU safely without having to risk their lives. He also called for a true European migration reception policy and referred to the resolution adopted by Parliament on this last week.

A demonstration of Belarusians living in Poland and Poles supporting them in Warsaw on 24 May ©AFP/Wojtek RADWANSKI