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Politics

Cyprus Joins EU Sanctions Closing Airspace to Belarus Flights

NICOSIA — It isn't widespread but Cyprus has agreed with European Union calls for sanctions against Belarus for forcing an airliner to land so that a dissident journalist could be arrested, the island barring flights from that country.

Many countries and airlines aren't going along after Turkey reported forced NATO and all other 29 of its members to go soft on Belarus because Turkish Airlines flies daily to Minsk.

The EU reluctance to get tough effectively gave Belarus' strongman President Alexander Lukashenko, called Europe's Last Dictator, a win against calls for sanctions as he has stepped up a crackown against protests over his rigged 2020 re-election and jailed journalists for covering demonstrations.

Cyprus' Aviation Ministry banned airlines registered in Belarus from using Cyprus’s airspace and airports from May 28, a transport ministry spokesperson said, reported Reuters.

Most of Belarus’s neighbors and many other European nations have banned Belarusian national airline Belavia flights over the forced landing of a flight from Greece to Lithuania – both of which denounced it but then agreed to back off from tougher sanctions.

The same advisory prohibits Cyprus-registered airlines from entering Belarusian airspace, or flights to and from Belarus. All flights to Belarus have been suspended, with no effect on Lukashenko.

A scheduled Belavia flight from Minsk to Cyprus’s Larnaca airport on May 29 was canceled, another source not named told the news site. The restrictions do not apply in case of humanitarian or medical emergencies.

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