Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen during the Arria formula meeting on Ukraine - March 6, 2020

06.03.2020 - Speech

(check against delivery)

I would like to thank you, Estonia, for organizing today's Arria meeting. It is very good that you took the initiative to remind us of Russia's flagrant breach of international law through the occupation of Crimea. The international community cannot accept that the law of the strongest takes precedent over the strength of the rule of law. This is what the UN is about. This is also what the UN Security Council is about, because it was created to preserve peace and security. And it is really sad that, Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, is violating international law.

I also find it very sad that the Russian representative - who left the room after he listened to the testimony given by those most affected by the Russian occupation - he describes this as horror stories, or that he describes these stories as  science fiction. I would like to congratulate all those who stand up to the violators of international law and speak out. We heard the Russian representative boast about the situation in Crimea. Unfortunately, he left out some of the some of the truth.

When he was saying about the many tourists coming and when he was complaining about the fact that nobody directly from Crimea was involved in this Arria, I think what he should do instead is lift the systematic restrictions of fundamental freedoms: the freedom of expression, religion, of belief and association, the right to peaceful assembly, which are not given in Crimea. We are especially concerned about the situation of the attacks against the Tartar-Crimean minority.

While he was boasting about the freedom to travel there, he did not say anything about the freedom of those that are arrested. Germany urges the immediate release of all Ukrainian citizens who remain illegally detained and imprisoned in Russia and in illegally annexed Crimea. Among them, more than 100 political prisoners of the Tartar community. We also strongly condemned the recently closed excessive prison sentences based on dubious evidence against Inver Bekirov, Muslim Aliyev, Vadym Siruk, Emir-Usein Kuku, Refat Alimov and Arsen Dzhepparov. It would be good if they next year would get have with have the chance to be directly on a video link to this to this meeting.

We continue to condemn and we ask that Russia lift the ban of the Mejilis, the central self-governing institution of the Crimean Tatars, which is in clear violation of an order of provision and measures of the International Court of Justice, which required Russia to abstain from limitations of Tatar representative institutions.

Also, when he is complaining of Ukraine, he should have mentioned that there is a cessation of school lessons in the Ukrainian and Tartar language on Crimea. We call on Russia here to the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of all form of racial discrimination as required by the ICJ in its decision from April 2017.

We are also concerned about the forced draft of Crimean citizens into the Russian military, as well as the military indoctrination of school children. Again, thank you very much for putting this on the agenda.

It's very important that we don't accept that we accept the violation of international law as the new normal. We have to stand up to the violation of international law. We owe this to the people in the Crimea. We owe it to Ukraine and we owe it to ourselves. Thank you.

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