Ministry of Foreign Affairs Daily Briefing
Review of events surrounding the Autonomous Republic of Crimea
The Russian military and security services have used aggressive methods in blocking and capturing units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Crimea.
Recently we witnessed the seizure of ships of the Ukrainian Naval Forces in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea by armed men, with the participation of Russian troops. These actions by the Russian side can be regarded as nothing other than piracy. Can the world afford to allow pirates and terrorists to roam free in the heart of Europe in the twentieth century - that's the question to which the civilized world must now respond.
Units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Crimea now number more than 22,000 soldiers (11,500 soldiers of the Black Sea Fleet, including about 2,400 Marines, and about 10,500 troops from the formations and units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation).
The Russian side continues to form organized groups for the purpose of deploying them to the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine with the aim of destabilizing the situation.
A high concentration of troops of the Russian Federation remains on Ukraine’s borders and are actively being reinforced.
Ukraine — Belarus
In response to the statement the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko made on March 23, 2014, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine recalled the Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Belarus to Kyiv for consultation and prepared a note to the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Ukraine, asserting that such statements by the President of the Republic of Belarus are counter to generally recognized rules of international law and the position of the majority of countries of the world which have condemned Russia's actions regarding the annexation of Crimea.
Ukraine — UN
On March 21-22, a working visit to Ukraine by the delegation of the UN Secretariat was led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. During the visit, the UN Secretary-General met with the Acting President of Ukraine, Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament Oleksandr Turchynov, Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other high-ranking officials.
The visit highlighted the solidarity of the United Nations with Ukraine in this most critical stage of Ukraine’s current period of independence and the desire for the UN to play a more active role in resolving the situation involving Ukraine. It is extremely important to note, that in the context of his visit Ban Ki-moon sent a clear signal to the international community of the need to resolve this situation on the basis of strict adherence to the UN Charter and respect for the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of our country.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is actively exploring the use of all UN structures to protect the national interests of our country.
In this regard, on March 27, 2014 Ukraine is convening a formal meeting of the UN General Assembly on the situation involving our country, in which we will recommend the consideration a draft resolution entitled "The territorial integrity of Ukraine." The key objective of the resolution is to seek confirmation by the General Assembly, the chief political and most representative organ of the United Nations, of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and to prevent the recognition of changes in the status of Autonomous Republic of Crimea on the basis of an illegal referendum.
On March 21-22. the Assistant General Secretary of the UN for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic visited the Autonomous Republic of Crimea with the purpose of preparing the deployment of the UN Human Rights monitoring mission.
On March 18, 2014, during the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council, in considering item 4 of the agenda entitled “Situations related to human rights which require the attention of the Council”, the delegations of many countries condemned the Russian Federation’s encroachment on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, welcomed the commitment of Ukraine to investigate violations of human rights, drew attention to the violations of human rights in the occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and called upon the Russian side to provide international observers immediate access to Crimea. These messages were expressed in the speeches of the delegations of France, the Czech Republic, Great Britain, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Belgium and Georgia.
Ukraine - OSCE
On March 21, 2014 the OSCE Permanent Council approved the decision to send a special monitoring mission of international observers to Ukraine.
Over the last three weeks, the Russian side had blocked the approval of the decision to launch an international monitoring mission. On March 21, 2014, after lengthy negotiations, the OSCE participating states were able to agree on the proposal’s text acceptable to all parties.
In accordance with the decision, the mission will collect information and report on the security situation in the area of interest, identify and report any adverse incidents while monitoring the situation related to human rights and fundamental freedoms, and promote dialogue to reduce tensions and normalize the situation.
Upon approval of the decision, the Ukrainian delegation presented a statement in which the Ukrainian government proposed that in their interpretation, the mandate covers the entire territory of Ukraine, including the Crimean Autonomous Republic, and that the mission should begin its deployment in the eastern and southern regions of the country.
Initially, the mission will consist of 100 civilian observers, who at this stage will be located in nine oblasts of Ukraine (Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Chernivtsi, and Luhansk oblasts). The head office will be located in Kyiv.
If necessary, the mission could be extended to include 400 additional observers.
The mission will be deployed in Ukraine for six months, although the mandate may be extended if requested by Ukraine.
Prior to the appointment of the director of the mission, the director’s duties will be carried out by the Director of the Center for Conflict Prevention of the OSCE Secretariat Adam Kobyeratsky.
The comment of the Russian Foreign Ministry in connection with the deployment of a monitoring mission in Ukraine was further proof of the dangerous attempts of the Russian side to play games, not only with its own people, but also with the entire international community.
The mandate of the OSCE observation mission encompasses the entire territory of Ukraine and, unquestionably, also includes the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which is an integral part of the Ukrainian state.
The mandate was approved by all the countries of the OSCE with the understanding that this is an irrefutable fact. Only the Russian Federation, as always, had its own dissenting opinion, and again found itself isolated in the largest security organization in the world.
Therefore, the mission will be active in Crimea, unless, of course, the Russian Federation continues to use the medieval practices of repression and violence toward the international observers.
Ukraine — Council of Europe
On March 22-24, 2014 a delegation led Chairman Ann Brasser from the Presidential Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will visit Ukraine on a fact finding mission.
On March 22, 2014 a delegation from PACE visited Acting President and Speaker of the Parliament Oleksandr Turchynov that reviewed the current situation in Ukraine with particular attention paid to the situation in the Autonomous Crimean Republic. They also discussed legal and judicial reform as well as reforming law enforcement agencies.
On March 23, 2014 the chairman of the Donetsk Oblast State Administration Serhiy Taruta met with members of the civil society in Donetsk.
On March 24, 2014 meetings between regional and city authorities and members of the civil society were held in Lviv.
On Mach 25, 2014 the 26th session of the Congress of City and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe will be held in Strausberg. (March 25-27, 2014.)
The meetings agenda will propose and urgent debate to consider the situation in Ukraine. Also, the meeting will consider the state of democracy in Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Great Britain, the Netherlands as well as issues relating to human rights, and the involvement of youth in regional and municipal authorities.
During the 98th plenary session (March 21-22, 2014) the Venice Commission adopted a resolution that unanimously recognized the pseudo-referendum in the Autonomous Crimean Republic as unconstitutional and illegal.
Their conclusion states, that there was no dialogue intended to attain a consensus regarding a possible referendum in Crimea. Commission experts concluded that based on the multiethnic composition of the Crimean population, an inclusive dialogue with all representatives has a particular significance.
They also conclude that the Constitution of Ukraine, like other constitutions of members states of the Council of Europe, maintains the country’s territorial integrity and does not permit municipal separatist referendums. In accordance with Article X of the Constitution the same ban applies to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea does not allow the Crimean Parliament to conduct a referendum.
The Venice Commission also concluded that the Russian Federation law “About changes to the Federal Constitutional regarding the adoption of new subjects of the Russian Federation” contradicts international law, in so far as it violates the principle of territorial integrity, sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of another country. They also note that the preparatory context of the law is of concern.
Ukraine — EU
On March 25-26, a working delegation of the European Union headed by Štefan Füle EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy will include Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner for Taxation, Customs Duties, Anti-Fraud and Statistics as well as senior officials from the EU Commissions for Trade, Economic and Financial Policy and Visa and Migration Policy.
The EU delegation will meet with Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk and members of the Government of Ukraine as well as separate bilateral meetings with leaders of ministries.
The meetings will discuss ways for the EU to provide emergency financial assistance to Ukraine for macroeconomic stability, the scope and procedure of granting Ukraine autonomous trade preferences with the EU, which will soon unilaterally liberalize access to the EU market for Ukrainian exporters in the Ukraine-EU FTA framework, the transition to a visa-free regime between the EU and Ukraine and to prepare for the signing of the agreement between Ukraine and the EU on trade and economic policy.
Ukraine — Canada
On March 22, 2014, a Canadian delegation led by the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, including Foreign Minister John Baird, Justice Minister Peter MaKay and President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Paul Grod along with other Canadian officials visited Ukraine.
Acting President and Speaker of the Parliament Oleksandr Turchynov welcomed the Canadian delegation and held talks with Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
The delegation discussed bilateral relations and special attention was given to the consequences of Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The leadership of our country expressed their gratitude to Canada for their clear and consistent support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
An important outcome of the meeting was an agreement to resume talks that were suspended last year between Ukraine and Canada regarding a free trade agreement.
The Ukrainian Prime Minister thanked the Canadian delegation for their decision to allocate $200 million of financial assistance that will be provided in the context of Ukraine’s resuming its cooperation with the International Monetary Fund.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared that Ukraine can count on the absolute support of Canada to the UN, “Group of Seven” and other international organizations and institutions.
The visit confirmed Ottawa’s readiness to develop a relationship with the new government of Ukraine to stabilize the internal political, economic and security situation in our country.
Ukraine — Federal Republic of Germany
On March 22, 2014 the Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with Oleksandr Turchynov and Arseniy Yatsenyuk and condemned Russia’s actions in Crimea, referring to them as an act of open aggression, violating the Constitution of Ukraine and international law.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced Germany’s intention to grant Ukraine practical expert advice, including optimizing the structure and activities of executive authorities of Ukraine and the fight against corruption and Germany Government’s willingness to promote a reverse supply of gas to Ukraine, including among others, through the territory of the Slovak Republic.
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