Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the incident of forced landing of Ryanair FR4978 in Minsk, Belarus

Greece condemns in the most categorical manner the act of state hijacking that took place today and resulted in the forced landing in Minsk, Belarus of a Ryanair aircraft operating the FR4978 flight from Athens to Vilnius.

The aircraft had a total of 171 passengers, 11 of whom are Greek citizens. This act, which endangered the lives of all passengers, is unacceptable.

We call for the immediate release of the aircraft and all passengers so they can reach their final destination.

We condemn the illegal arrest of the Belarusian activist Roman Protasevich, who is threatened with the death penalty.

Mr. Protasevich was a member of the delegation of Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who had recently attended the Delphi Economic Forum.

For Greece, defending fundamental values such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights is a matter of principle.

We believe that practices of this kind, that are reminiscent of a different era and are not befitting any civilized state, should not go unanswered.

The Greek side maintains close coordination with the other EU Member States and expects that this issue will be thoroughly considered at the forthcoming European Council.