The dictator of Belarus is turning the country into the “North Korea of Europe”, its exiled opposition leader said in an appeal for tougher sanctions against the regime after it forcibly diverted a Ryanair plane carrying a fugitive dissident.
Speaking to the European Parliament via video link on Wednesday, Tikhanovskaya called for a series of concrete measures, including a ban on new foreign investments and on Belarus’s main exports like oil and metal products, potash fertilisers and wood.
It comes after Belarus was thrust back into the spotlight when a Ryanair flight diverted to the Belarusian capital over the weekend.
Authorities claimed it was due to a security alert but others believe it was a ruse to arrest journalist Roman Protasevich.
“The previous EU strategy of wait and see towards the Belarusian regime doesn’t work,” Tsikhanouskaya told MEPs. “The EU approach of gradually elevated pressure against the Lukashenko regime hasn’t managed to change its behaviour and only lead to a growing sense of impunity and massive repression.
Tsikhanouskaya said, “Now, I call on the European Parliament to make sure that the reaction of the international community is not limited to the Ryanair flight incident.
“The response must address the situation in Belarus in its entirety or we will all face such situations in the future as Lukashenko is turning my country into the North Korea of Europe: non-transparent, unpredictable and dangerous.”