'Crimea is Ukraine’: NATO PA representatives attend the inaugural Summit of the Crimea Platform

26 August 2021

Kyiv, 23-24 August. – President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Congressman Gerald E. Connolly and Co-chairperson of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC), Ojars Eriks Kalnins (Latvia), joined senior political leaders of 46 nations and international organisations, including NATO and most of the Allies, for the inaugural Summit of the Crimea Platform convened in Kyiv on 23 August. They reaffirmed the Assembly’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and their condemnation of Russia’s ongoing aggression and illegal occupation of Crimea.  

The Crimea Platform was created by Ukraine as a consultative framework to coordinate activities aimed at restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity and peacefully ending the Russian illegal occupation of Crimea. The Summit adopted a Joint Declaration where parties committed, inter alia, to continue the policy of non-recognition of the illegal annexation, to consider further political, diplomatic and restrictive measures towards Russia and to redouble efforts aimed at protecting the rights of the Crimean people.  

Addressing the Summit online, NATO PA President Connolly stressed that “the illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea is the most egregious example of Russia’s disregard for international law and norms – unparalleled in Europe since the end of World War II” and urged Ukraine’s partners to “repeat time and again, for however long it takes, that we will never recognise nor accept it”.  

He put Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the wider context of the revisionist autocratic power’s attempts to undermine the rules-based liberal world order. “Ukraine is on the frontlines in this contest of values,” Mr Connolly said. He reiterated the Assembly’s proposal to create, within NATO, a Democratic Resilience Centre to assist Allied nations, upon request, in countering threats to democracy.  

President Connolly also stressed that parliamentarians can play a key role in maintaining a united posture that imposes costs and consequences on Russia for its continued aggression in Ukraine, including through sanctions. He highlighted the determination of the Assembly members to press this cause in their respective parliaments. 

Also speaking during one of the Summit’s events, Mr Kalnins drew parallels with the experience of the Baltic states that were occupied by the Soviet Union for nearly 50 years. He noted that illegal occupations eventually end, and that it is important to focus on keeping the idea of freedom alive as well as a sense of cultural identity both among the people in the occupied territories and those living in exile.  

“What we, the Balts, learned from these 50 years, is that if you keep the hope alive, and if you work together, you can accomplish a great deal. But for that opportunity to come, you also need international support – and that’s what the Crimea Platform is all about”, Mr Kalnins said. He stressed the importance of repeating the key message – that Crimea is Ukraine – in all international formats and statements until de-occupation is achieved.  

Throughout the Summit, participants expressed grave concern about the ongoing grave violations of human rights on the peninsula, including the systematic oppression of minorities, especially Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians. Political leaders and experts also highlighted the increasing militarisation of the peninsula by Russia, which poses a considerable security challenge in the Black Sea region and beyond.  

On 24 August, Mr Kalnins represented the Assembly at the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Ukrainian declaration of independence. The Independence Day parade involved, as a gesture of solidarity with Ukraine, military units from several Allied countries.  

The NATO PA’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic integration is expressed across Assembly activities as well as in the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council, which embodies the Assembly’s special relationship with the Verkhovna Rada and its practical support for the reform process. This year, the Assembly also established an informal support group for the Crimea Platform. The group seeks to remobilise international attention on Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea. 

The recordings of the Crimea Platform summit are available here

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