Belarus Closing Embassy As Canada PM Condemns Jetliner's Diversion

Belarus closing embassy as Canada PM condemns jetliner's diversion

Ottawa, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 26th May, 2021 ) :Belarus announced Tuesday it was closing its embassy in Canada as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the country's regime over its diversion of an airliner in order to arrest a dissident on board.

On its website, the embassy said it would shut down on September 1 after 24 years "of mutually beneficial cooperation," and halt consular services, including the processing of visa applications, starting in July.

In an email to AFP, Charge d'Affaires Evgeny Russak said the decision was made "in connection with the optimization of the Belarusian diplomatic presence" in different regions.

"This decision was not spontaneous and made on the basis of an analysis of the practical impact of the current bilateral contacts," he said, adding that Belarus's Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko had signed off on the closure on Saturday.

Earlier Trudeau called out President Alexander Lukashenko's government over its rerouting on Sunday of a Ryanair flight to Minsk and the arrest of opposition journalist Roman Protasevich, calling it "outrageous, illegal and completely unacceptable" behavior.

"This was a clear attack on democracy and on the freedom of the press," Trudeau told a news conference, joining international outrage.

He condemned "this kind of dangerous interference in civil aviation" as well as Protasevich's arrest, and urged his "immediate release." "Canada has existing sanctions in place against Belarus and will be examining further options," the prime minister added.

"We also support action through all available international institutions," he said, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and NATO.

In coordination with the European Union and Britain, Canada slapped sanctions on 54 Belarusian officials following disputed presidential elections in August 2020.

Bilateral trade last year was only $47.9 million, according to Belarus' foreign ministry.