Speech by First Deputy Minister Emine Dzhaparova
at the Ukraine 30. International Relations All-Ukrainian Forum
"Crimea Platform as a Foreign Policy Tool for Implementing the Crimea De-occupation Strategy"
Dear colleagues, Members of Parliament, friends,
It is a great honor for me to open the second day of the Ukraine 30. International Relations Forum, dedicated to the practical dimensions of our country's foreign policy.
The Forum not only sums up the results of 30 years since the restoration of Ukraine's independence, but also serves as a platform for discussing the vision of our country's development.
Today we will discuss such important issues as the European Neighborhood Policy, the role of Ukrainians abroad in protecting Ukrainian national interests, and, of course, we will talk about Crimea and the Crimea Platform.
Opening our event yesterday, the President of Ukraine stressed that the de-occupation of Crimea is a top priority of Ukrainian foreign policy.
So, what has Crimea become today?
The occupying Russian authorities created the most acute problems in the following areas:
• unprecedented militarization;
• mass human rights violations;
• violation of international humanitarian law, in particular the replacement of the population of the occupied territory with Russian nationals;
• transformation of Crimea and its adjacent waters into Russia’s military outpost in the Azov-Black Sea region.
Russia is constantly increasing the number of troops and equipment in the occupied Crimea.
Recently, the Kremlin has gone even further. At the pretext of military exercises, it closed up a part of the Black Sea for six months, including in the direction of the Kerch Strait for foreign warships and state-owned vessels. In addition, the Russian President gave the Rosguard the right to block the Black and Azov Seas.
This creates significant impediments for international navigation, threatens the security and stability of Ukraine and the whole of South-Eastern Europe.
Russia is actively building the Crimean military infrastructure for its nuclear weapons, reconstructing the infrastructure of Soviet-era nuclear warheads storages.
Potential nuclear weapons carriers are already stationed on the peninsula.
Russia is trying to secure its dominance in Crimea by turning it into a huge military base.
At the same time, it suppresses all possible forms of counteraction to the occupation.
The main factors in this process are the unprecedented and brutal oppression of dissentients, especially Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars.
The Kremlin is violating international humanitarian law by conscripting the population of the Ukrainian peninsula to its army. Since the beginning of the occupation, about thirty thousand Ukrainian nationals have been called up for military service.
Russia is artificially and deliberately replacing the population of Crimea. It ousts the disloyal and replaces them with hundreds of thousands of Russian nationals, which ipso facto constitutes a war crime.
The March decree №201 of the President of the Russian Federation on the border areas in Crimea actually deprived Ukrainians and everyone else, except the nationals of the Russian Federation, of owning the most of the land on the peninsula. This is yet another obvious piece of evidence of forceful passportization, when it is impossible to live in conditions of occupation without a Russian "Ausweis".
In Crimea, the cultural heritage of Ukraine and the indigenous people of Ukraine – the Crimean Tatars – is being destroyed and appropriated. At the same time, active Russian propaganda, and imposition of Russian historical narratives on the population of Crimea, its own and foreign nationals is being carried out. Such policy is aimed at the ideological justification of aggression, the erosion of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar identity in Crimea.
From the very beginning of the occupation, Ukraine's diplomatic service has mobilized the international community to condemn Russian aggression.
In response, international and regional organizations have made a decision not to recognize the change in Crimea's status.
It is worth mentioning the first UN General Assembly Resolution on the Territorial Integrity of Ukraine of March 2014. The "Crimean Hundred", as diplomats call it when talking about states that did not recognize Russia's crimes.
In 2016, we initiated a resolution on human rights. And, two years later, the UN General Assembly voted on the "Problem of the militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, as well as parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov" decision.
We ensured that the item on the Situation in the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine was on the agenda of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly.
Efforts to keep the international community aware of the mass human rights violations on the peninsula are a top priority. This is a way to help Ukrainian nationals, because publicity saves lives.
In this regard, four reports of the UN Secretary-General are the most crucial, which provide evidence of political repression and political lynching.
An important component of our efforts is an active use of the UN Human Rights Council platform.
Since 2015, more than 30 interactive human rights discussions have been conducted in Ukraine. A special emphasis is being placed on the situation in the occupied Crimea and Donbas.
Equally important is the UNESCO Executive Board platform, which also adopts decisions to monitor the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
These documents secure the issue of Russian aggression against Ukraine on the UN agenda. They also serve to prevent the world community from adopting a status quo and document Russia's violations of international law.
The issue of Russian aggression is also given due attention in the OSCE. The consensus principle of decision-making complicates our work.
Every week, the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna makes a report on Crimea and Donbas within the framework of the Permanent Council.
We continue to work on ensuring access of monitoring missions to Crimea.
Despite the return of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, it should be noted that the policy of non-recognition of the attempted annexation is officially enshrined in more than 10 of its decisions. In particular, on June 23, a resolution of the Council of Europe on the human rights violations committed against Crimean Tatars in Crimea was adopted. I am grateful to the Ukrainian delegation and the Icelandic rapporteur for their work.
Since the beginning of the occupation, the European Parliament has adopted 5 resolutions on Crimea and another 24, where the issue of Crimea is among the provisions of the resolutions.
We also expect that in the autumn the European Parliament will return to the issue of adopting a special resolution on the situation in Crimea. It should become a comprehensive document to support the de-occupation of Crimea.
The European Union, the United States, Australia, Albania, Canada, Japan, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland have imposed sanctions on Russia, which have only been strengthened over the years.
Ukraine has initiated a lawsuit against Russia over the application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism in the International Court of Justice.
We have also initiated a lawsuit in the Arbitration Tribunal on the Law of the Sea between Ukraine and the Russian Federation regarding the coastal state rights in the Black and Azov Seas and in the Kerch Strait.
A separate track is the litigation to the European Court of Human Rights. The ECHR decision of January 14 to consider the merits of the case, based on 11 complaints filed by the Government of Ukraine, approximates the responsibility of the aggressor state for the committed illegal acts.
In addition, the ECHR is processing more than 6,800 individual applications, related to events in the temporarily occupied Crimea and in the certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
It is also worth mentioning the Scythian gold case.
We demand the return of a half a thousand museum objects of the state-owned part of the Ukrainian Museum Fund in Dutch courts.
In December 2016, the District Court of Amsterdam announced a decision in the case, recognizing that the collection is subject to return to the territory of Ukraine. Phantom Crimean museums run from Moscow filed an appeal. We are waiting for its outcomes on September 14 of this year.
But all these steps are part of a path, where Ukraine has faced such problems, as a lack of a strategic vision for the Crimea liberation process and scattered efforts in this area on the part of Ukraine and the international community.
Therefore, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence, an important result was the adoption of the Strategy for De-occupation and Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Crimea by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine and its approval by the Ukrainian President.
For this we are grateful to our key partners, Deputy Prime Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, and his team, as well as the team of the Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine to the ARC, Anton Korynevych, and other agencies for their cooperation in developing this Strategy.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine worked on the foreign policy component of this document. Our team, led by Dmytro Kuleba, proposed the International Coordination Mechanism of the Crimea Platform to the President of Ukraine.
As Minister Kuleba noted yesterday, "the participation of states in the Crimea Platform is a very simple test on whom you side with in the issue of the occupied Crimea – with Russia and aggression, or with Ukraine and the international law?"
The Platform is not only an international consultative and coordinating mechanism. It is also a political umbrella format, that has already joined national and international efforts.
So what is the Crimea Platform?
It is a multi-level, comprehensive format that promotes a strategic vision of the policy on Crimea, consolidates the attention and resources of the world community, and should ensure synergies at the intergovernmental, inter-parliamentary, non-governmental levels, as well as between them.
Ukraine's leadership is key here. In this way, we make a tangible contribution to the system of European security and restoration of the world order. What we took into account when developing the concept, is a broader global and European context. Therefore, Ukraine invites states to join the united efforts to liberate Crimea. This should be a strong signal of the inadmissibility of attempts to change internationally recognized borders by force, of the unity of the international community and its common values.
The ultimate goal of the Crimea Platform is, of course, the de-occupation of Crimea and its return to the Ukrainian control by peaceful means, as the Strategy for De-occupation and Reintegration emphasizes.
On this path, we will move in five priority areas:
• consolidation of the international policy of non-recognition of any change in the status of Crimea;
• sanctions effectiveness, strengthening of sanctions and blocking ways to circumvent;
• protection of human rights and international humanitarian law, restoration of the rights of the Crimean Tatar people;
• ensuring security in the region of Azov and Black seas and beyond, protecting the freedom of navigation;
• overcoming the environmental and economic consequences of the occupation.
The activities of the Platform will simultaneously take place at several levels:
• expert and
The Inaugural Summit of the Crimea Platform, which will take place in Kyiv on August 23, will become the Platform’s first event at the highest political level. It will take place right here, in Parkovy Center.
The process of organizing the Summit and of drafting its Joint Declaration has showcased two important aspects.
We managed to form the core of the international coalition for the liberation of Crimea, which is constantly growing.
We have also managed to reach a common understanding among our most important partners that delaying a response to the occupation of Crimea and related crimes has in fact given Russia and other authoritarian regimes a carte blanche to further attack the rules of a democratic world.
The joint declaration, which we plan to adopt at the Summit, in addition to the formal launch of the International Crimea Platform, will confirm the invariability of the "Crimea is Ukraine" formula, condemn Russia's crimes in and around Crimea, and outline the modalities of international de-occupation policy.
At the same time, we must be clear that Russia is not only keeping an eye on the Ukrainian initiative. It has declared the Platform a threat to its territorial integrity and security and began large-scale work to discredit the Platform, its objectives and goals, as well as to hold back the states from participating.
Now let’s talk about the Summit itself.
The high-level segment of the Summit will feature the speeches of the President of Ukraine, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Prime Minister, the leader of the Crimean Tatar people, heads of foreign delegations and, importantly, a representative of the civil society – of the newly created Crimea Platform Expert Network.
Then the work of the Summit will continue in the format of 4 thematic panels:
• non-recognition policy and sanctions;
• security threats;
• protection of human rights in the temporarily occupied Crimea;
• restoration of the rights of the Crimean Tatar people.
The activities of the Crimea Platform will not end after the Summit.
The intergovernmental level of the Platform will act in a form of consultations of foreign ministers, coordinating meetings of specialized working groups in priority areas, and conferences. In particular, we plan to establish an annual forum dedicated to the security of the wider Black Sea region and beyond.
I cannot fail to note the successes in the parliamentary dimension.
MPs from various factions were actively involved in the implementation of the tasks of the Crimea Platform (СP), both on the inner and on the outer tracks. The CP inter-factional association was registered last year, and since the beginning of this year we have developed a package of CP laws.
The Crimean package of laws was born in numerous consultations with the parliament, the Foreign Ministry, the Permanent Representation of the President of Ukraine to the ARC, the National Institute for Strategic Studies, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, experts and other participants, and has already been partially implemented.
We are also talking about the recently adopted law on the abolition of the notorious Crimea FEZ and the long-awaited law on the status of indigenous peoples. Thank you for the extraordinary example of unity and synergy. This is exactly what the world respects, and Ukrainian diplomats share their experience in fighting for Crimea with their partners.
But there is still a lot of homework to be done: strengthening the law on sanctions and the adoption of other decisions, in part the decision on the protection of political prisoners.
We also see results on the international track of the Crimea Platform parliamentary cooperation. A support group for the Crimea Platform established by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in cooperation with the NATO PA, as well as groups in the parliaments of Latvia and Lithuania, are already operating.
We will hear about the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe today in the speech of the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the PACE Maria Mezentseva and my other MP colleagues.
An important stage in the development of the Crimea Platform was the creation of the Crimea Platform Expert Network by the non-governmental sector on June 7 this year.
About 180 Ukrainian and foreign independent experts and scientists have already expressed their interest in participating.
The tasks of this network include analytical and informational support of the official dimension of the Crimea Platform and expert diplomacy.
Expert diplomacy will help raise awareness of Crimean issues in the world. The network's first international event, the Expert Forum, will take place in Kyiv on July 22-23.
I am pleased to note that some of the first expert studies in the Crimean direction have already been presented to the foreign diplomatic corps. Namely, studies on scenarios for Russia's use of military potential from occupied Crimea and sanctions policy against Russian defense industry enterprises.
We also welcome the joint development of an action plan for 2022, conducted by experts in cooperation with international think-tanks and scholars. The potential of such interaction is difficult to overestimate.
Finally, I will recall a personal story. In March 2014, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Ambassador Robert Serry arrived in Crimea.
He was to give a press conference on the results of all his meetings at the Moscow Hotel.
Hundreds of journalists from all over the world waited for him for several hours. I was among them.
The alarming rumors that Ambassador Serry was held captive by the so-called self-defense at the Vienna Buns Café in Simferopol, I had previously heard from ATR journalist Elvina Seitbullayeva.
I made a decision to go on a search for the Ambassador with the British ITV News team immediately.
We were the first to find Robert Serry. He confessed that we were his salvation. Because at that time it was difficult to understand what to expect from the unknown people, hiding behind the "Crimean self-defense."
I acted as a mediator in several hours of negotiations and passed an ultimatum to the special envoy: "Leave Crimea immediately or no one will guarantee his safety." We were taken to the airport, which had already been surrounded by the "green men", armed to the teeth. They escorted me to the VIP lounge, where I took the last interview on my mobile phone, which was then shown by hundreds of world media outlets. In that interview, Ambassador Serry said he had come to the peninsula to investigate and tell the world about what was happening in Crimea.
We know what happened after that – a cynical crime of occupation conducted by a country that guaranteed Ukraine’s security and convinced the world of fraternal peoples.
But the words of the UN Secretary-General special envoy are still relevant today – almost 8 years after those events – the world needs to know what is happening in Crimea today.
The purpose of the Crimea Platform is to not let the offender conceal its ongoing – daily – crimes and, along with our partners, to restore justice and hold Russia accountable. Both for the Crimea, and for Donbas.
Glory to Ukraine!