PARIS, May 24. /TASS/. Paris has said that it has not excluded the possibility that the airspace over Belarus may be shut to EU planes after the recent forced landing of a Ryanair flight, Clement Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, said on Monday.
"We will take all measures to eliminate dangers to European citizens during air travel," he told the BFM TV channel. "One such measure can be closing down the airspace over Belarus to EU planes." According to Beaune, "the measures against Minsk will be considered by EU leaders in Brussels this evening."
Paris’ top diplomat reported that nine French citizens were on board the Ryanair flight that had to make an emergency landing in Minsk on Sunday. "This act of state piracy cannot go unpunished," he vowed. "We will continue imposing sanctions to primarily ensure the security of our own citizens," Beaune emphasized.
Simultaneously, the diplomat demanded that Belarusian officials immediately release Roman Protasevich who was taken into custody after the plane he was on board was forced to make the emergency landing in the Belarusian capital, describing him as a "political opposition figure."
A Vilnius-bound Ryanair flight that took off from Athens was forced to make an emergency landing at Minsk International Airport on Sunday after a reported bomb threat. The plane landed safely and no bomb was found on board. Roman Protasevich, one of the co-founders of the Nexta Telegram channel, which was recognized as extremist in Belarus, was among the passengers. Protasevich, currently living in Lithuania and wanted in Belarus, was detained after the airliner had landed in the Belarusian capital. The plane left Minsk and continued on to Vilnius late on Sunday.