Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

Kyiv 03:37

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Daily Briefing

27 March 2014, 17:26

In yesterday’s comment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation announced that the Russian Federation is actively preparing to celebrate on a grand scale the 70th anniversary of the liberation from the Nazi invaders. The Russian diplomats also allowed themselves to arbitrarily sow doubt on Ukraine’s intentions to do the same, questioning Kyiv’s priorities.  

Regarding this matter, I would like to stress that Ukraine plans to celebrate this very important anniversary with no less grandeur. The Ukrainian people paid the highest price in the liberation from the Nazi invaders. Sadly, as it was 70 years ago-the theme of liberation from occupation continues to be extant in Ukraine. 

In this vein, we ask the authorities in Moscow, how can you look in the eyes of your Russian countrymen and those in the other countries who fought by your side and won the Great Victory of 1945, when today, you have transformed Russia into an occupier, brutally invaded the sovereign territory of Ukraine, tortured Ukrainian officers and soldiers, and plundered the property, military bases, and natural resources of Ukraine? 

Sadly, Moscow’s current policy is a revival of the ideas espoused by the Nazi invaders, professing “expansion of their living space”. 

We are convinced that the millions of sacrifices placed on the altar of the Great Victory 70 years ago will nonetheless force the Kremlin to come to its senses and stop behaving like occupiers and invaders!  Otherwise, the leaders of the Russian Federation have no moral right to usurp the title of “victor of World War II”, and to usurp the celebration of this important victory, bought with great sacrifices by our nations. 

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The Russian Federation constantly emphasizes that it was not and “is not a party to the conflict in Ukraine."  This, despite the fact that it used armed intervention under the guise of a cynical manipulation of the will of the people to annex the territory of another state, to whom it guaranteed territorial integrity in exchange for giving up nuclear weapons. 

Similarly, the Russian Federation asserted that it was not a party to the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts, and claiming that it is not interested in the existence of other hotspots, including the Nahirnokarabacki and Transnistrian conflict. 

Interestingly, all of these hot spots coincide with the declared "areas of interest” of the Russian Federation. And so now we see these "hot zones of interest" ... 

Naturally, this raises the question: haven’t too many conflicts occurred and aren’t too many occurring with the direct participation of the Russian Federation and its armed forces, even though the Russian Federation claims it is not one of the parties involved?

Of course it's a rhetorical question, because the answer is obvious. 

More confirmation of this is seen today - Russia is actively amassing the offensive component of its armed forces on the borders of Ukraine, and causing numerous provocations by imported sabotage groups in Ukraine to destabilize the situation. All of this is proven fact. 

What excuses does the Russian Federation use to justify this?  Another "military exercise"?  Last time, this kind of “exercise” led to the annexation of Crimea.

The events in Georgia in 2008, Crimea in 2014, “protection of compatriots" in other states, illegitimate rigged plebiscites held while occupied by an invader and their instant recognition by the Russian Federation, the accumulation of offensive weapons on the borders under the guise of various "peace-loving" slogans - we have seen all of this in the last century and are seeing it again in the twenty-first.  We all know how it ended back then.

Now the question arises: is the world repeating the mistakes of the past, is it gambling on the policy of“appeasement" and negotiations with the aggressor? Ukraine sincerely hopes that we have learned from and recognize the lessons of the past and will not repeat the catastrophe that we experienced before. 

Once again we appeal to the Russian Federation to rethink its policies and stop its aggression. 

Comment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on violations of minority rights in Russia 

In Ukraine, we are concerned not only with increasing xenophobia, anti-Semitism and racism in the Russian Federation, but also with the prominent lack of protection of minority rights, which nearly universally falls short of European standards. 

This concern on the Ukrainian side is shared by the leading expert bodies of the Council of Europe, which regularly monitor various aspects of human rights in member states of the Council of Europe. 

Thus, in 2013, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe considered and adopted the report of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in Russia for the third monitoring cycle and adopted the resolution CM/ResCMN (2013)1 dated April 30, 2013 on the application of the provisions of this convention in Russia. 

According to this document, the experts expressed serious concern about the lack of integrated Russian Federation legislation to combat discrimination by embracing all aspects of life and setting forth well-defined concepts of discrimination. Stressing that the existing powers and limited resources of the Commission for Human Rights of the Russian Federation does not allow it to properly protect the rights of national minorities, they pointed to the need for an independent specialized agency that would be concerned only with issues of discrimination and would have extensive monitoring capabilities. 

And according to the European experts, that authority would much to do, because: 

-Minorities still face widespread discrimination in areas such as employment and access to housing. Intolerance and hostility against "foreigners" are more and more openly displayed. In some regions, continued forcible eviction of the Roma occurs without providing adequate alternative housing. Wages and working conditions of the majority of the indigenous population  engaged in traditional activities do not meet the basic legal requirements; 

- In some regions, the system of registration of residency remains problematic and discriminatory because of administrative barriers, and sometimes due to corruption and discriminatory attitudes of law enforcement officers. The obstacles faced by migrant workers in the processing of registration and work permits make them particularly vulnerable to victimization by corrupt police officers in their own interests and to other types of abuses; 

- People from the Caucasus and Central Asia, and the Roma are subjected to selective and unnecessary frequent searches by the police, thus making them vulnerable to acts of corruption and other irregularities, including disproportionate use of force; 

-There is no support of any activities of national minorities other than cultural activities, and the procedure and criteria for the allocation of financial assistance for this purpose lacks transparency; 

-An alarming number of crimes are motivated by racial hatred and hostility, particularly against immigrants fro Central Asia, Africa, Asia and the Caucasus, as well as against the Roma.  Frequent manifestations of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and ethnic clashes are seen, not infrequently inflamed by politicians and the media.  Increasingly, the speeches of politicians contain xenophobic and racist rhetoric, especially during election campaigns.  The media widely disseminates superstition, and occasionally uses hate speech against certain ethnic minorities; 

-Human rights activists and non-governmental organizations that deal with human rights and the rights of minorities are facing serious problems in the implementation of their right to freedom of association and expressing their opinions. When it comes to their actions in protecting the rights of minorities, they are prosecuted according to the law "On combating extremist activity”; 

-Despite the presence of legislative guarantees of the equality of all languages at the federal level in the Russian Federation, the general climate is not conducive to their use in daily life, including at the administrative level and on road signs. The use of minority languages in cities is declining rapidly, even among those members of minorities within their own local communities. The number of television programs and radio broadcasts in minority languages have also been reduced; 

- Existing provisions of federal legislation on the use of minority languages in schools are often not implemented at the local level, and therefore the specific guarantees of access to education in minority languages and the study of minority languages are not fulfilled. Moreover, a constant process of "optimization" of schools has led to the closure of various schools which teach minority languages and the elimination of classes which teach minority languages. 

As of today, Russia has not ratified the Council of Europe's key tool in protecting the linguistic rights of minorities, namely the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages dated   November 5, 1992.  It has been on the "back burner" since 2001, and as can be seen by the policies pursued by the Moscow authorities in the sphere of languages, is unlikely to be ratified in the near future.  Meanwhile, it is this Charter which could provide effective protection of language rights not only to one million ethnic Ukrainians (according to unofficial data, about 10 million) living in Russia, but also the language rights of all other national minorities, who constitute the national cultural diversity of the Federation. 

Accusing Ukraine of violating the rights of the Russian-speaking population, a country which not only ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2003, but has undergone and passed two rounds of monitoring procedures provided for in this treaty, Russia once again demonstrates the double standards it uses in regard to our country. 

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In order to protect the rights and interests of Ukraine and its citizens affected by the act of aggression by the Russian Federation and the occupation of the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine will utilize methods available through the international legal system. In particular, we are working on the prosecution of the crimes committed by the Russian Federation on the territory of Crimea by international legal and arbitration institutions, as well as in foreign legal authorities. 

Accordingly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is actively gathering evidence in support of these illegal activities. The amount of accumulated information already contains a substantial amount of evidence and continues to grow with new facts and descriptions of crimes. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine calls on the public to contribute to this evidence by reporting human rights violations by the Russian Federation, illegal seizure of property, and the commission of other discriminatory measures to the authorities of Ukraine. 

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Regarding the massive disinformation by the Russian media. 

According to the Embassy of Ukraine in Moldova, on March 20, during a routine meeting of the Joint Control Commission (in the city of Bendery), which administers the peacekeeping operation on the Dniester river, the representative of Ukraine asked the Russian official delegation to the Joint Control Commission to provide evidence of the alleged halting by Ukraine of trains delivering food and supplies to the Russian peacekeeping contingent in the Transnistrian region of Moldova. The Ukrainian side referred to widespread Russian media (ITAR-TASS) reports citing sources from among the representatives of the Russian Federation in the Joint Military Command and the Russian delegation in the Joint Control Commission. Therefore, it was suggested to the Russian side to officially provide the Joint Control Commission with a description of the goods and property that Ukraine allegedly blocked delivery of on March 10, 2014. We expressed our surprise that the Russian side did not raise the issue during the meeting of the Commission, but instead released this disinformation to the Russian media. 

In response, the head of the delegation of the Russian Federation in the Joint Control Commission, Co-Chair of the Joint Control Commission of the Russian Federation, Senior Counsellor of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Moldava Vasyl Kochmar made the following statement: 

- None of the Russian representative in the Joint Military Command or in the Joint Control Commission provided any information to the media regarding blocking the delivery of goods for Russian peacekeepers; 

- Information about the blocking of delivery of goods to Russian peacekeeping troops by Ukraine is not true and is recognized by him as "journalistic fiction"; 

- There was a single incident of denial of entry into Ukraine of an officer of the Russian contingent, which is irrelevant to this issue. 

Thus , the Russian side at the meeting of the Joint Control Commission officially recognized that the information spread by the media is not true. 

Ukraine - Kazakhstan 

On March 26, the Assistant Minister of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Ukraine Arhin Ospanov was called out to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. 

First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Natalia Halibarenko handed the Kazakh side a note, in which Ukraine expressed its concern over the content of the statements of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan regarding events in Ukraine, made on March 25 during a briefing in The Hague.

In particular, it was noted that these statements are counter to the generally accepted norms of international law and the position of most countries of the world, contrary to the partnership between the two countries and is not acceptable to the Ukrainian side. 

Ukraine - UN 

Today  March 27, 2014, a meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations devoted to Ukraine will take place in New York. 

The meeting will take place in two parts: in the morning - the 68th session of the UN General Assembly and in the evening - the Ceremonial Conference on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Taras Shevchenko, culminating in a celebratory concert. 

Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andriy Deshchitsa , Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Yuriy Sergeyev and Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Serhiy Kyslytsia will represent Ukraine at the General Assembly. 

At the opening of the 68th session of the General Assembly, Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andriy Deshchitsa will be the first speaker (16.00 local time), during which he will submit a draft resolution entitled "The territorial integrity of Ukraine."

Before voting on the resolution, the delegates representing regional groups will present their positions. After the vote, another debate will be held. 

After the meeting, a series of consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine the representatives of the United Nations are scheduled. 

On March 28, a meeting of the UN Security Council is scheduled, which will also focus on Ukraine, specifically on the situation regarding the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. 

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Within the framework of the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council which is currently taking place in Geneva, on March 26, during the general debate on agenda item 2 "Annual Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Officers of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) and the Secretary-General”, the U.S. delegation made public a joint statement on the situation in Ukraine, which was co-authored by 42 countries. 

The statement articulated strong support for the people and government of Ukraine during this troubling time, and confirmed the importance of respect for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of our country. 

The statement also expressed deep concern over the activities of the Russian Federation designed to violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, which are a direct violation of the UN Charter and at odds with its obligations under the Helsinki Final Act . 

Welcoming in this context the actions of the UN and the Council of Europe, and the deployment of the OSCE observer mission in Ukraine, the co-authors of the statement urged the Russian Federation and all interested parties to ensure full and unimpeded access of international observers to all regions of Ukraine, including Crimea, to ensure the transparent and objective assessment of the situation regarding the protection of human rights, including those of all minority groups. 

They also urged all Member States to act together to provide the necessary assistance to Ukraine, and welcomed steps by the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights aimed at helping to ensure respect for human rights at this time of crisis. 

Ukraine - EU 

On March 27, the 21st meeting of the committee for Parliamentary Cooperation between Ukraine and the EU began. 

The Ukrainian side is chaired by Member of Parliament of Ukraine  Serhiy Tihipko. The delegation of the European Parliament is headed by Member of Parliament Paul Smith. 

During the meeting of the Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, the agenda will include discussion of the state of relations between Ukraine and the EU, the internal political situation between Ukraine and the EU, and the prospect of visa-free travel for citizens of Ukraine traveling to EU member states. 

In addition, the parties will consider the issue of energy cooperation between Ukraine and the EU. 

According to the political portion of the Association Agreement signed on March 21, the Parliamentary Committee for EU-Ukraine Cooperation will take on a new format as soon as the new provisions go into effect-specifically, the format of a Parliamentary Committee of the Association. 

Resulting form the meeting, a final statement and recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee for EU-Ukraine Cooperation will be published, titled ”A new era in the relations between Ukraine and the EU." 

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On March 26, 2014, a meeting of senior officials was convened to discuss the visa-free regime between Ukraine and the EU.  During the meeting, the two sides discussed measures taken by Ukraine on the recommendations of the Commission as expressed in its Third Report on Ukraine's progress in implementation of the first (legal) phase of the Action Plan for the liberalization of the visa regime between Ukraine and the EU dated November 15, 2013. 

The EU side noted the significant progress made by Ukraine in the implementation of the first phase of the Action Plan and stressed its readiness to take all steps necessary to make a rapid transition to the second (Implementation) phase of the Action Plan. 

The results of the meeting of senior officials will be discussed during a meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Member States (Coreper) on March 27, which could result in the European Commission’s preparation of a Fourth Report on Ukraine's progress in implementation of the first (legal) phase of the Action Plan. 

That report is scheduled to be presented at a meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Member States on April 2, which could vote to move Ukraine into the second phase of the Action Plan. 

Following the decision of Ukraine's transition to the second phase of the Action Plan, the EU will immediately begin confirming the  implementation of the adopted legislation, the result of which should be a decision on the completion of the second phase of the Action Plan, which can be adopted at the level of the European Parliament and of the Council of Europe. 

One of the main issues in the framework of the second phase of the Action Plan is to ensure the issuance of biometric passports that meet the standards of ICAO, including through the consulates of Ukraine abroad.

So , today Ukraine has a chance to speed up the implementation of the Action Plan on visa liberalization and hasten the decision to grant a visa-free travel for our citizens for travel to EU countries. 

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