Kallas will discuss a strong response to Belarus with EU leaders

24.05.2021 | 16:13

Stenbock House, 24 May 2021 – Prime Minister Kaja Kallas will attend an extraordinary European Council in Brussels today and tomorrow to hold a strategic debate on relations with Russia, discuss the next steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide further guidance on combating climate change in the coming years. The EU leaders will also decide on the response to the Belarussian authorities which forced a passenger plane to land in Minsk yesterday to detain the journalist Roman Protasevich, who was on the flight.
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According to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, the European Union must jointly respond to the actions of Belarus. “The Protasevich case is not just a threat to international civil aviation, but a state-initiated kidnapping. The Council must give Belarus a very clear and strong response that such a crime is completely unacceptable in a civilized world. This must be followed by a clear punishment in the form of sanctions and other possible measures concerning the use of Belarusian airspace for international flights,” Kallas stressed and called on the Belarusian authorities to release the detained journalist and his companion on the flight immediately.

The meeting of EU leaders will begin with a dinner where they will discuss foreign policy issues. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, added to the agenda last night the issue of a passenger plane being forced to land by the Belarusian authorities and the response of the European Union to it in the form of possible consequences and sanctions. The EU leaders will continue the strategic debate on Russia. They will also discuss the current state of EU–UK relations. The EU leaders will additionally give a brief overview of the situation in the Middle East and preparations for the forthcoming summit of EU leaders and the United States in mid-June.

The second day of the Council will continue with a discussion on the COVID-19 situation and the next steps. The leaders of the Member States will focus on issues related to the use of the EU COVID-19 digital certificate to restore the free movement of people as soon as possible and the distribution of vaccines to third countries.

The main topic on Tuesday is the fight of the European Union against climate change. The heads of state and government will focus on the actions and policies needed to meet the climate targets of the European Union for 2030 to provide guidance to the European Commission in developing legislative proposals. At the end of last year, the European Council agreed on an EU target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Before the Council, Prime Minister Kallas will meet with Charles Michel, President of the European Council. Before the meeting of the heads of state and government begins, the leaders of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark (NB6) will also meet.

On the morning of Tuesday, 25 May, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels. The meeting will focus on the NATO summit in June.

After the meeting, Kallas and Stoltenberg will make statements to journalists, the live broadcast of which can be viewed on the NATO website from 11 a.m. Estonian time.

More information on the meeting with the NATO Secretary General is available at: https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_184035.htm

More information on the Council is available at: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/et/meetings/european-council/2021/05/24-25/

Government Communication Unit