‘EU does not recognise and continues to condemn illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol’ – Declaration by the EU High Representative
February 25, 2021

‘EU does not recognise and continues to condemn illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol’ – Declaration by the EU High Representative

The European Union remains steadfast in its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said in a declaration issued to mark the 7th anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, commemorated by Ukraine on 26 February.

The European Union reiterates that it does not recognise and continues to condemn this violation of international law. It remains a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of all States, the declaration says. The European Union remains committed to fully implementing its non-recognition policy, including through restrictive measures and cooperation in international fora.

The increasing militarisation of the peninsula by the Russian Federation, including multiple military exercises and the construction of warships, continues to have a negative impact on the security situation in the Black Sea region. In violation of international humanitarian law, Russia has imposed citizenship and conscription into its armed forces on Crimean residents,” said Borrell. The European Union condemns the construction of the Kerch Bridge and the opening of a railway section without Ukraine’s consent. These constitute further attempts to forcibly integrate the illegally annexed peninsula into Russia, and a further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The declaration reminds that, since the illegal annexation by the Russian Federation, the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula has significantly deteriorated. Its residents face systematic restrictions of their fundamental freedoms, such as the freedoms of expression, religion or belief and association, and the right to peaceful assembly. Journalists, human rights defenders and defence lawyers face interference and intimidation in their work. The Crimean Tatars continue to be unacceptably persecuted, pressured and have their rights gravely violated.

Destructive actions against the peninsula’s cultural heritage, such as archaeological treasures, artworks, museums or historical sites, which continue unabated, must stop. All pending cases of human rights violations and abuses, such as enforced disappearances, torture and killings, violence, politically motivated prosecutions, discrimination and harassment must be thoroughly investigated. All those detained in the Crimean peninsula and sentenced in breach of international law must be immediately released. The ban on the activities of the Mejlis, a self-governing body of the Crimean Tatars, must be reversed,” stressed Borrell.

The EU welcomes the diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders and will consider concrete Ukrainian ideas in this regard, in line with the established non-recognition policy, says the declaration.

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