Marco Levytsky, National Affairs Editor (Reporting from Ukraine).
Initiative designed to mobilize international support for an end to the occupation of Crimea
August 23 in Kyiv, representatives of 47 nations and organizations attended the inaugural summit of the Crimean Platform – an initiative of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy designed to mobilize international support for an end to the occupation of Crimea and contribute to European and global security.
The Crimea Platform is a new international consultation and coordination format aimed at improving the effectiveness of the international response to the ongoing occupation of Crimea, responding to growing security threats, increasing international pressure on the Kremlin, preventing further rights violations and protecting victims of the occupation regime, as well as achieving the main goal, which is to ensure that Russia ceases the occupation of Crimea and that the Ukrainian government regains control of the peninsula.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has identified five priorities for the Crimea Platform:
Firstly, security, including freedom of navigation. Second, ensuring the effectiveness of sanctions against the aggressor state. Third, the protection of human rights and international humanitarian law. Fourth, protection of educational, cultural and religious rights. Fifth, overcoming the negative impact of the temporary occupation of Crimea on the economy and the environment.
Negotiations will be conducted in five key areas:
- The policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia;
- Expansion and strengthening of international sanctions against Russia;
- International security;
- Human Rights;
- The impact of the occupation on the economy and the environment.
Special attention will be paid to the issue of Crimean political prisoners on the occupied peninsula.
Participants approved a declaration which outlines the goals and procedures in detail. (See https://crimea-platform.org/en/samit/deklaraciya).
“This day is historic for Ukraine,” President Zelenskyy told reporters after the declaration was signed.
“We held the summit which established a powerful international coalition in order to liberate Ukrainian Crimea from Russian occupation. It is evident that in the complicated fight for the restoration of the territorial integrity of our state Ukraine has significant support from the international community. Despite all the difficulties and challenges, the Crimean Platform has begun very successfully. Its final goal is the de-occupation of Ukraine’s sovereign territory – the Crimean Peninsula.
Referring to the Declaration he stated:
“This document clearly declares the non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, the commitment to consider additional political and diplomatic restrictive measures against the Russian Federation in case of further aggression, consolidation of the efforts of all participants for the strengthening of security and stability in the Black Sea region. For the first time, the Russian Federation is recognized as an occupying power on the international level. And according to the provisions of international humanitarian law, Russia is obliged immediately to stop the violation of human rights in the occupied Crimea and to ensure access to Crimea for the international humanitarian human rights organizations.”
Thirty-seven heads of the delegations – namely those who sent heads of state, heads of governments, heads of parliaments, ministers and deputy ministers and representatives of international organizations, made statements in which they expressed their “unwavering support for Ukraine” and declared that “Crimea is Ukraine”.
The 10 countries who only sent their ambassadors – including Canada – were excluded from the speaking list. (More about this in a story to come)
After the Summit, the activities of the Crimea Platform will not end. Four formats of its work are planned which will include presidents, foreign ministers, deputies and experts. The intergovernmental level will act in the form of consultations of foreign ministers, coordination meetings of specialized working groups on priority areas, and conferences. In particular, it is possible to establish an annual forum dedicated to the security of the wider Black Sea region and beyond.
Ukrainian political commentators described this a “a great diplomatic victory”.
“In my opinion, the inaugural summit of the Crimea Platform is the largest international event that has taken place in Ukraine in 30 years,” said political expert Volodymyr Fesenko.
“Experts and diplomats can mention two or three major international conferences held in Ukraine. The last one was the Chornobyl summit in 2010. There was also a big OSCE conference. But in terms of level, the scale of representation, and, most importantly, the significance of the topic, of course, the Crimea Platform [is the greatest international event ever held in Ukraine] because Crimea, as well as Donbas, is the main foreign policy topic for Ukraine,” he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described the Crimean platform as “a dead-end road”.
“The current Ukrainian government is completely subordinate to ultra-nationalist neo-Nazi ideas”, which are embodied, among other things, in the adopted laws, for example, on language, on education, on indigenous peoples, he added.
The Trotskyite World Socialist Web site went so far as to describe it as “an attempt by the government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to build international support for a military offensive against Russia to ‘return’ the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine.”