The European Parliament has called for sweeping economic sanctions and a raft of other measures against Belarus in response to growing repression and the forced landing of a plane flying between two EU capitals to arrest opposition activist Raman Pratasevich.
Economic sanctions should target Belarus’s state-run companies in the oil, potash, steel, and wood-processing industries, EU lawmakers said in a non-binding resolution on June 10.
Cooperation and financing for Belarusian state-owned banks should be halted and suspending Belarus from the SWIFT international banking system should also be considered, the European Parliament said.
The European Union has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Belarus, applying asset freezes and visa bans on 88 individuals and seven entities, including authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka himself.
Even before Lukashenka had a Ryanair flight forcibly diverted to Minsk on May 23, the bloc had been working on a fourth round of targeted sanctions on senior Belarusian officials for electoral fraud in the presidential election last August and subsequent human rights violations.
The resolution said it considers the regime in Belarus as “illegitimate, illegal, and criminal.”
The plane diversion put renewed urgency on addressing Lukashenka’s rogue behavior, which the resolution stated has become a threat to international peace and security.
The “hijacking” and forced landing of the Ryanair flight in Minsk and the detention of Pratasevich and his girlfriend is a “horrendous act” in violation of international law and constitutes an “act of state terrorism,” EU lawmakers said.
Earlier this week, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told MEPs the bloc would likely adopt economic sanctions on Belarus later in June when EU foreign ministers meet to hammer out the details.
Shortly after the plane was diverted, EU leaders called for targeted economic sanctions.
The EU also banned Belarusian carriers from using the bloc’s airports and airspace.
The United States is coordinating a response with European allies and the Group of Seven summit of rich nations is expected to discuss the situation in Belarus this week.