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2021.05.24 15:19

Lithuania bars airport access to carriers flying over Belarus

LRT.lt2021.05.24 15:19

Lithuania’s government has banned flights from departing or arriving in the country if they have used, or plan to use, the Belarusian airspace, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė announced on Monday.

The minister said the decision was made in response to the “airliner’s hijacking operation” on Sunday.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis also called on EU member states to follow suit.

The ban will take effect at 00:00 UTC (03:00 Vilnius time) on May 25.

“Yesterday's incident made it very clear that, unfortunately, even our citizens are not safe while flying in the neighbouring country's airspace, and we can't be sure that an aircraft won't be forced to land for one reason or another,” Transport Minister Marius Skuodis told the cabinet.

The government has instructed Oro Navigacija (Air Navigation), the state-owned air navigation service provider, to inform pilots about the ban.

Lithuania expects an international response to Belarus' hijacking of a Vilnius-bound civilian aircraft, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Monday.

“Lithuania can take some steps on its own, but we expect the main response to be an international one,” Landsbergis told reporters.

“We believe an EU-wide decision would be a more sustainable response,” the minister said, adding that the issue has to be raised in “all available formats”, including the European Council, and the Foreign Affairs Council's meeting in Lisbon at the end of this week.

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