Statement by the Directors General of Civil Aviation of the European Civil Aviation Conference

27 May 2021 - We, the aviation authorities of the 44 Member States1 of the European Civil Aviation Conference, are gravely concerned by the diversion of Ryanair Flight 4978 to Minsk on 23 May 2021. We support ICAO performing any relevant investigation to establish the facts associated with this incident.

Adherence to international principles and norms is fundamental to ensuring the safety and security of aircraft, passengers and crew. Confidence in the aviation system is more important than ever as the industry recovers from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We recall the founding principle of the international aviation in the 1944 Chicago Convention on international civil aviation, that “development of international civil aviation can greatly help to create and preserve friendship and understanding among the nations and peoples of the world, yet its abuse can become a threat to the general security”.2 For over 70 years the development of international civil aviation has enabled the successful promotion of cooperation between nations and peoples around the world.

Every State has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory. Actions that impact on the free, safe and secure operation of aviation or which may endanger passengers or crew, such as the interception and diversion of aircraft, should only be carried out where necessary for the purpose of ensuring the safety and security of aviation, or for other purposes in accordance with international norms. In addition, according to Article 4 of the Chicago Convention, each State agrees not to use civil aviation for any purpose inconsistent with the aims of the Convention.

We call on the authorities of the Republic of Belarus, and all other States, to adhere to their common obligations under the Chicago Convention and to avoid actions that undermine international norms, and the free and safe operation of international aviation.

1 Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Türkiye, Ukraine and United Kingdom.
2 Preamble to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago, 7 December 1944)