Referring to a statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding the supposedly “agreed upon” visit of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Dunja Mijatović to the temporarily occupied Crimea, I wish to draw attention to the following.
To begin with, the issue of visits to the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as of monitoring of the human rights situation there – as ordered by the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly, and the Committee of Ministers and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – has been raised by Ukraine for several years now. Therefore, we should be clear on this point: it is not Russia, the occupying power, who has “opened a new page in its relations with the Council of Europe” – it is Ukraine, who has continuously insisted on making such a visit possible. And not just one visit, but visits on a regular basis.
Secondly, we can affirm that, as of today, there are no arrangements yet between the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Dunja Mijatović, and Ukraine on specific dates for the visit. However, what matters most is not the date, but having an agreement with the Ukrainian side on the modalities and programme of the visit. Russia’s role in this process is limited strictly to abiding by its obligations as the occupying power.
Thus, on the way to implementing the visit there are still many matters to be agreed upon with the Ukrainian side, i.a. involving human rights defenders and activists dealing with the violations of human rights of persons belonging to indigenous peoples and national minorities on the occupied peninsula. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is looking forward to welcoming Commissioner Mijatović, in order to have an opportunity to discuss i.a. the modalities of monitoring in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
Thirdly, in the context of the upcoming June PACE session, Ukraine wishes to draw attention to the fact that Russia’s attempts to “barter” the return of their delegation to the Assembly for the Commissioner for Human Rights visit represent a cynical attempt to evade accountability before the Council of Europe for committing international crimes and systematic human rights violations in the occupied territories. Any support for such attempts by the Council of Europe or some of our partners in the Organization would be nothing less than appeasement of the aggressor and a further undermining of the Council’s authority.
In this context, we consider particularly important the decision to extend the “Crimean sanctions” against the Russian Federation, approved today in Brussels by the Permanent Representatives of EU member States.