Saturday

28th May 2022

Nato chief backs Belarus sanctions

  • Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg (Photo: nato.int)

Western allies reiterated plans to punish Belarus for a recent air hijack after Nato foreign ministers held video-talks on Tuesday (1 June).

"What we need now is an independent investigation and ... to see that the journalist and his companion that were arrested during the landing of the plane, they have to be released," Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"I also welcome that Nato allies implemented sanctions, and also of course the measures and the sanctions agreed by the European Union. So there's a clear message, a united message from Nato, on this issue," he added.

He spoke after a Belarus warplane forced down an EU passenger plane last month to kidnap a journalist.

The EU closed off Belarus airspace in reaction and both Europe and the US are preparing to impose sanctions on Belarus oil and fertiliser firms.

Nato ambassadors already spoke out on the incident last week.

Turkey intervened to water down their joint communiqué, according to diplomats who spoke to the Reuters news agency.

And Belarus trolled Nato over the Reuters report on Tuesday.

"According to the information we have, Turkey really opposed the adoption of such a statement. If so, then we are grateful to Turkey for such a position and approach," Belarus foreign minister Vladimir Makei said, Turkish media reported.

"We have always been honest with all partners. We also supported Turkey during the [2016] attempted coup, and we have absolutely close, friendly relations with this country," he said.

But for his part, Stoltenberg brushed aside the episode.

"The North Atlantic Council [Nato ambassadors] last week agreed a strong statement [on Belarus]," he said on Tuesday.

The Nato HQ in Brussels has also restricted access to Belarusian military and diplomatic personnel, who used to come for seminars on issues such as arms control.

The air incident raised tension in Europe ahead of a Nato summit and a US-Russia summit later in June.

Russia, on Monday, said it was forming 20 new military units in the country's west on grounds of countering Nato.

Meanwhile, Nato is conducting large-scale naval war-games in the Atlantic Ocean near Portugal and in the Black Sea in a show of strength.

And the Nato summit statement is likely to paint a picture of an ever-more threatening global environment, Stoltenberg indicated this week.

"We've seen more Russian military presence in the High North, in the Barents Sea, and in the Baltic Sea, Kaliningrad, the Black Sea, and also down to the Mediterranean and Middle East," he said on Monday.

"We are there to prevent conflict and war. But the best way of doing that is to send a clear message to any potential adversary that if one ally is attacked, the whole alliance will be there," he said.

"The rise of China also poses serious challenges," he added.

"They have the largest navy in the world already, and they are investing heavily in new modern capabilities, including hypersonic weapon systems," he said.

"And then, China is not sharing our values. They don't believe in democracy. They don't believe in the freedom of speech and the freedom of media. We see how they oppress minorities like the Uighurs, and crack down on democratic opposition in Hong Kong and also how they coerce neighbours, and how they threaten Taiwan," Stoltenberg said.

Interview

Belarus threatens to kill two UK dissidents

British citizenship and international awards are not enough to make Belarusian dissident Natalia Kaliada feel safe after a high-profile death threat.

Investigation

Exclusive: Lukashenko plotted murders in Germany

Belarus president authorised political murders in Germany in recent years, according to a sensational recording of his former spy-chief obtained by EUobserver.

Column

Nato's biggest enemy hides within

Just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, intellectuals like Paul Kennedy and Francis Fukuyama warned that a democracy cannot be preserved on utilitarianism and capitalism alone. That warning has only become more urgent.

Opinion

Why is Serbia not going to join EU sanctions on Belarus?

As a membership candidate, Serbia is expected to join foreign policy declarations and restrictive measures of the EU. However, Serbia is unlikely to join the EU measures against Belarus for both international and domestic reasons.

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

Opinion

Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental

Some Western European politicians are reviving the chimera of a negotiated settlement. None of this makes the current, half-hearted approach towards sanctioning Russia look better — nor does it shed any favourable light on the cravenness of Hungary's current government.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us