The President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Gerald E. Connolly (United States), issued the following statement condemning the Belarusian regime’s reckless actions to force a civilian flight to land in Minsk and arrest journalist Roman Pratasevich.
“Yesterday’s diversion and grounding of a civilian flight between two NATO member states – by military force and upon utterly false pretenses – and the detention of journalist Roman Pratasevich is shocking and reckless.
I condemn the actions of the regime in Belarus in the strongest terms and call for an urgent international investigation to identify those responsible for this act of state piracy and terrorism which put the lives of up to 170 people in grave danger, including citizens from at least 10 Allied nations.
The regime in Minsk and all perpetrators must be held accountable, including through appropriate sanctions.
I also call upon NATO Allies to discuss the matter within the North Atlantic Council as soon as possible.
Mr Pratasevich must be released immediately and granted free passage. His arrest is another sign that the Lukashenko regime is desperate to salvage its ruthless dictatorship by any means. The people of Belarus deserve to choose their own political future, free of the fear of repression and violence.
Yesterday’s brazen acts by the illegitimate Lukashenko regime once again make it clear that Europe and North America’s democracies must stand together in sharp contrast to autocracies and continue to defend an international order based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
The Parliament of Belarus was granted Associate membership in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in 1992 but its status remains suspended since 1997.