Norway thanks the president of ICAO for sharing this important- though worrying- information.
We appreciate the opportunity to discuss this issue today, and thank the US and Albania for the initiative.
In our view, ICAO’s report makes clear that the Belarusian regime forced the landing of the Ryanair flight.
They deliberately did so under the false premise of safety concerns.
They therefore bear the responsibility for unnecessarily endangering the safety of passengers and flight crew.
While Belarus has pointed to missing information in the investigation, ICAO’s conclusions make it clear that this is, in large part, due to the Belarusian authorities themselves not fully cooperating in good faith.
We regret that this is the case.
We stress again that their actions constituted a threat to European security- undermining international law, and our collective security.
We must also recall it took place in conjunction with the authorities’ active facilitation of migration flows across its borders with Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia- as a destabilising measure, putting people’s lives at risk.
With the benefit of hindsight, we now see the full context of the forced landing.
Not only did it constitute a threat, it was a clear sign of Belarus’s complete disregard for global peace, security and international norms.
Since this incident, Belarus has helped facilitate Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
We express our grave concern about this escalation, as well as the reports of an additional Russian military build-up on Belarusian territory.
Norway has repeatedly expressed its concern about the oppressive political situation in Belarus and the actions of the government- using any means deemed necessary to maintain its grip on power.
We have, and continue to call on the authorities to cease their policy of intimidation and harassment of civil society, media workers, and members of the pro-democracy movement.
Belarus must: cease its attacks on civil society and human rights defenders; commit to regional stability; fully respect their obligations under international law; re-establish good relations with its neighbours; and engage in a genuine dialogue with pro-democracy forces in the country.
This can be the only path forward.