Turkey- Crimea cannot remain part of Russia: Ukrainian FM

(MENAFN- The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) Russia will be eventually forced to negotiate the status of Crimea the Ukrainian foreign minister told Anadolu Agency.

“Russia will be forced to talk with us and with the civilized world about Crimea” Pavlo Klimkin said. “The Crimea is going nowhere. At the end of the day there will be no way [that] Crimea could remain part of the Russian Federation.”

Russia seized the peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014 after Ukraine’s pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted. The move was condemned by world leaders and the UN and led to sanctions being imposed on Moscow.

Klimkin who has been in charge of Ukraine’s foreign affairs since June 2014 was speaking before a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Istanbul on Friday.

Since Russia took control of Crimea other parts of eastern Ukraine have become embroiled in a conflict that has seen pro-Russian militias grab territory in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. According to the UN the fighting has resulted in around 8000 deaths since April 2014.

Last February a peace deal signed in Belarusian capital Minsk called for a cease-fire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons as well as for the removal of foreign troops and for Ukraine’s border to be returned to government control.

However the agreement has had little effect on the conflict.

The Ukrainian government and the West have accused Russia of continuing to support the rebels militarily including providing Russian troops and military hardware.

Stop supplying troops

Klimkin said Ukraine was in “full solidarity” with the world on ending the conflict and said sanctions against Russia “should bring them back to implement Minsk fully”.

He added: “It is clear. Stop supplying weapons munitions and regular troops [to the rebels]. Stop shelling.

“Let the OSCE -- the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe -- monitor what is going on the ground. Exchange hostages.

“Let the people get humanitarian assistance. Let the people have free and fair elections on the basis of Ukrainian legislation and OSCE criteria.”

The minister said there was no need for a renegotiated treaty. “The problem is with the full implementation of Minsk agreement” he said.

“It is that simple but it is not the intention of the Russian Federation because they want to destabilize Ukraine and Donbass.”

He said government troops were involved in fighting not just the “Russian proxies” in Luhansk and Donetsk which form the Donbass region but also regular Russian soldiers. He claimed more than 1000 tanks and armed vehicles had been provided by Russia.

The issue of prisoners -- addressed by the Minsk agreement’s call for all illegal detainees to be released -- has shown little progress Klimkin said.

While Ukraine has refused to recognize Russia’s control over Crimea -- Klimkin referred to it as a “temporary occupation” -- the Kremlin insists the territory will remain part of Russia.

The annexation has seen widespread protests from the peninsula’s Tatars who have blockaded roads and borders.

“It is about politics but it is also about emotions and commitment” Klimkin said.

The minister also drew attention to Tatars being held as political prisoners in Crimea for opposing the Russian occupation. According to Valeriya Lutkovska the Ukrainian parliament’s commissioner for human rights Crimea has become a “peninsula of fear” as opponents face murder torture kidnapping and other forms of repression.

Common freedom

“We have to fight for them for their freedom because it is about our common freedom” Klimkin told Anadolu Agency.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine -- where most of the country’s heavy industry is based -- has had a severe effect on the economy and according to Klimkin the cost of waging the campaign accounts for 5 percent of Ukrainian GDP.

“Because of the temporary occupation of Crimea by Russia and because of what is going on in Donbass we lost about 20 per cent of our economic output” he said.

In the face of these losses the country has been pursuing a reform program outlined by the EU. An EU-Ukraine free trade agreement took effect on Jan. 1 and Klimkin said the deal provides opportunities for businesses in the region.

“It should create a special pattern of free trade around the EU Ukraine and Turkey” he said emphasizing Ukraine and Turkey’s “unique successful strategic partnership”.

He added: “Ukraine and Turkey belong to Europe -- to Europe how we understand it. We have a lot of common challenges. We have also common security challenges. I believe we also have humanitarian challenges.”

On security issues Klimkin pointed to Moscow’s new national security strategy that portrays NATO’s eastward expansion as a threat to Russia.

Referring to the violation of Turkish airspace by Russian warplanes based in Syria which on Nov. 24 resulted in a Russian plane being shot down Klimkin said: “Turkey is a member of NATO. But Turkish airplanes have not been trying to cross the Russian border. It is Russian airplanes that tried to cross the Turkish border. So what is the threat here?

“Turkey acted according to international law after a number of warnings. We all have to respect international law.”

Legal Disclaimer:
MENAFN provides the information “as is” without warranty of any kind. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, images, videos, licenses, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this article. If you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the provider above.