Ukraine to do everything possible to return Crimea: Speech of Zelensky at Crimean Platform summit

Source : 112 Ukraine

The Summit of the Crimean Platform takes place in Kyiv on August 23
15:24, 23 August 2021

Summit of the Crimean Platform in Kyiv, August 23, 2021
Official website of the President of Ukraine

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has addressed an opening speech during the Crimean Platform summit in Kyiv.

Related: Crimean Platform: Participants to adopt joint declaration assessing Russia's actions

We provide the speech of the president:

Thank you very much!

For the beginning, almost right now, in a few seconds before the beginning, the Foreign Minister, Mr. Kuleba told me that “I even do not believe that it takes place in Ukraine; there are so many countries…”. And I understand that we have here so many of our friends so I would like to thank all of you and applause you. Thanks to you, it is the issue of the current interest. Thank you!

The high-ranking heads of states, governments, parliaments, members of governments, honored ambassadors, honored colleagues! As I have already said; all of you are our friends, gentlemen, and ladies. Today, on August 23, 2021, a very important and significant event takes place. For the first time since the occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula, this issue is put at the highest international level. I sincerely welcome all 46 delegations of the first Summit of the Crimean Platform. Congratulations!

You know I would be happy to see you in Ukraine and in Kyiv not only for this purpose but it can’t be helped. Seven years ago, in the center of Europe, in my country, Russia annexed and occupied part of our territory, our independence – the peninsula of Crimea. Its square is 27,000 square km. It is more than some countries of Europe than some world countries. Our territory is annexed by the country; one of the countries and guarantors of the security of Ukraine according to the Budapest Memorandum; one of the countries and members of the UN Security Council. We have just heard the 1944 song of our singer, Jamala, who reminded us about tragic events of 1944 when over 200,000 people; almost all the Crimean Tatar population of Crimea was deported. 40% of them died during the first three years of deportation. It seems that such horrible events are impossible; such ideas as peace, sovereignty, territorial integrity of the state are certainty and nobody and nothing threat them. Unfortunately, we were wrong and it is an important issue for the whole world. Ukrainian Crimea would be a guarantee of regional stability, and now, it is the powder keg. Since the beginning of the occupation, Moscow increased thrice its military presence in our Ukrainian peninsula. Crimea turned to the military base out of the world-famous resort; it became the base for further extension of the Russian influence in the Black Sea region. Crimea turned into a territory, where the rights, the most important rights and freedoms of humans are roughly and constantly violated. Without the provision of the proper security in the Black Sea, it is hardly that we would return to Crimea. Besides, the occupation of Crimea doubts the efficiency and effectiveness of the whole international security system concerning the territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders. Without restoration of the trust, any country can be sure that it will not become the next victim of the occupation of the part of the territory. The political persecutions, forced disappearances, illicit detention of over 100 political prisoners, tortures, oppress of freedom, mass media, religious belief, expropriation of property, forced demographic changes, illicit draft call of Ukrainian citizens to the Russian army in temporarily occupied peninsula, propaganda of war among children at schools – unfortunately, it is the realities, sad realities of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

Ukraine and I personally will do everything possible to return to Crimea, to make Crimea a part of Europe together with Ukraine. We will assume all possible political, legal, first of all, diplomatic means. In March 2021, the strategy of de-occupation and reintegration of the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea was approved. It is the first fundamental document that provides specifics, particular steps of Ukraine for the de-occupation of our peninsula. It had to appear, to be honest, in 2014. Recently, the law on indigenous people that enshrines the status and proper rights of the Crimean Tatar community; the shameful law on “free economic zone of Crimea” is canceled; the draft bill is submitted to the Verkhovna Rada on the state policy of the transition period in the temporarily occupied territories.

We realize that alone (I thank you one more time), alone our independent country Ukraine would never be able to return to Crimea. We need effective support at the international level, the support at the new level of the de-occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula. Today, we need effective steps for the release of Crimea, our joint efforts could get rid off armed aggression and stop aggression in the temporarily occupied territories, not only Crimea but temporarily occupied Ukrainian Donbas. But we have not returned yet Crimea to Ukraine, unfortunately.

The temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea by the Russian Federation has started on February 20, 2014, and it lasts 2,741 days. Too much, to be honest, time was lost. Lost, unfortunately. We should not lose even a day anymore. I am glad that we have launched our platform. Ukraine together with you, our friends, international partners, partakers of the Crimean Platform have started to write a new chapter in the history of Ukraine, the history of Ukrainian Crimea. It is the chapter about the de-occupation; because the de-occupation is the final goal for me, my state; the final goal of work, daily work of the Crimean Platform.

The synergy of our efforts should force Russia to sit down to talk about the return of our peninsula. Today, we approve the joint declaration of the states and partakers of the international Crimean Platform. The document will be open for joining and I am sure that it will create a strong political basis for our joint work. In the declaration we provide the univocal estimation to illegal and aggressive actions of Russia; we confirm our readiness to stick to the policy of non-recognition of the attempt of the annexation of Crimea until the moment of its de-occupation. We do not hold this summit just for another summit. The issue of Crimea should not disappear from the international agenda for another seven years. That is why we offer to focus today on the practical work and coordination of efforts on very particular questions. It includes, first of all, the enhancing of sanctions and protection of human rights and overcoming environmental and economic consequences of the occupation, provision of freedom of navigation in the Black and Azov Seas. In support of our activity, the Office of the Crimean Platform was created. It has already started to work and I will show its work today. Working, as we say 24/7, the Office on the daily basis will monitor the situation with the human rights, collect information on the increase of the military activity on the peninsula, and monitor environmental and economic situations in the temporarily occupied territory. We offer to determine your authorized representatives who will keep in contact with the Office, coordinate our work. I believe that our joint work…the Crimean Platform should become the center of creation and approval of the key international decisions on Crimea. From today, we in fact start the countdown until the release of our land, the Ukrainian peninsula.

It is possible that August 23, 2021, will become history as the day of the beginning of the occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol city. The occupation of the peninsula of Crimea has started in Moscow, the de-occupation of Crimea will start in Kyiv.

Let’s begin.

Thank you. Thank you very much!

Related: Occupation of Crimea calls into question effectiveness of international security system, - Zelensky

Crimean Platform is a diplomatic initiative of Ukraine. It is designed to be an international coordination mechanism to restore Russia–Ukraine relations by means of reversing the 2014 annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. The protection of the human rights of Crimean Tatars, environmental degradation, and the stifling of trade in the Black and Azov Sea region are also matters discussed at the summit. The inaugural summit of the platform takes place on 23 August 2021, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence.

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