By Robin Emmott and Joanna Plosinska
BRUSSELS/WARSAW (Reuters) – European Union ambassadors agreed on Friday to a plan to prevent Belarusian airlines from landing at EU airports or even flying over their airspace, three diplomats said.
This measure is part of the economic sanctions against Belarus, which were imposed on May 23, on the orders of President Alexander Lukashenko, Ryanair’s plane.
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Those diplomats said that without last-minute objection from member states, this measure should come into effect from midnight Central European Time (CET).
The European Union also recommends, without ban, the bloc’s airlines to avoid flying over Belarusian airspace.
According to Eurocontrol, the European air traffic control agency, about 400 civilian aircraft fly over the airspace daily.
Lufthansa LHAG.DE, SAS SAS.ST, Air France AIRF.PA, LOT, Finnair FIA1S.HE and airBaltic are among the airlines that have already announced that they will not fly over Belarusian airspace.
Belavia, the national carrier of Belarus, offers flights from Belarus to about 20 airports in Europe, including Helsinki, Amsterdam, Milan, Warsaw, Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Rome and Vienna.
Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsykhanuska on Friday urged the United States, Great Britain and the European Union to work together to put more pressure on Alexander Lukashenko.
Speaking during a visit to Warsaw ahead of the G7 summit scheduled for June 11-13, Svyatlana Tsykhanoskaya said she hopes to address issues raised by the Belarusian opposition on the occasion.
“The pressure is stronger when these countries work together and we call (in this sense) the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and Ukraine. They must work together to make their voice stronger,” said Svyatlana Tsikhnoskaya.
(Robin Emmott, with Joanna Plosinska in Warsaw; French version by Claude Chengo, edited by Blandin Hinault)
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