Ambassador Nepop said President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko initiated last year the international platform "Friends of de-occupation of Crimea", which is aimed at elaboration together with Ukraine’s partners of effective mechanisms for restoring territorial integrity of Ukraine and returning Crimea.

"Continuing this initiative, this year we are conducting a conference with the Embassies of the Baltic States and our Hungarian partners, where the experts will analyse the effectiveness of the current policy of the West regarding Crimea, the usefulness for Ukraine and its partners of the experience of the Baltic states’ liberation from the Soviet occupation, the effectiveness of the measures taken by Kyiv and the international community for de-occupation of the Crimea," the ambassador said.

Latvian expert Andis Kudors, Member of the board, Executive director, researcher of the Centre for East European Policy Studies, recalled the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine and underlined its deep symbolism, since Europe itself is a territory of dignity. Kudors said Russia is trying to promote the idea that international law no longer works, whereas the task is to return Russia within the framework of law.

"Ukraine will need strategic patience backed by a clear position of the UN and EU as well as at the level of individual countries to continue the policy of non-recognition of annexation in order to return the occupied territories," he said. "At the same time, we must remember that Russian aggression is going on and people are dying in Ukraine."

Henrik Magi, an Estonian expert on non-recognition policy at the University of Tartu, and Advisor to the Finance Committee of the Parliament of Estonia, underlined that even though the political and geopolitical situation of the occupation of Baltic countries by the Soviet Union differs from the occupation of Crimea by Russia, still they have elements in common. Magi said non-recognition should have primary legal context, not only political.

"For the implementation of this policy, the constant attention to the issue of occupied territories is needed, where Ukraine should be supported by the partners and the Ukrainian diaspora," he said. "At the same time, the policy of non-recognition itself will not lead to de-occupation. It is a supplementary tool and should be combined with other [measures], including sanctions and political pressure."

Member of the Lithuanian Parliament Laurynas Kasčiūnas noted that the importance of the policy of non-recognition implies the return of the occupied territories with the same status as it was before the occupation. The advice to negotiate and bargain about anything are unacceptable, Kasčiūnas said. That was why the West and Ukraine should not agree with ideas such as recognition of the annexation of the Crimea in exchange for stopping Russian aggression in the East of Ukraine. "Sanction regime is an important reinforcement of the policy of non-recognition, and punishment for those who violate this regime should ensure its effectiveness," he said.

Hungarian expert, and a Board member of the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy, Ambassador Istvan Gyarmati underlined the responsibility of the West and importance of support of Ukraine. Currently the situation looks like the West is ready to propose a reward to Russia for stopping its aggression against Ukraine, Gyarmati said.

"But in reality the aggression must be stopped, and the aggressor should be punished and not rewarded," he said. "Russia would like to keep Crimea but has no intention to annex Donbas, where its aim is to be present for supporting ongoing conflict. The aim of this conflict is to prevent Ukraine’s integration to the EU and NATO. The West should change its approaches and integrate Ukraine into those structures, which will be the best answer to Russia."

Hennadiy Maksak, Head of the Foreign Policy Council "Ukrainian Prism", gave a briefing on the situation in the occupied Crimea, focusing on violations of human rights, the militarisation of Crimea by Russia, and the negative economic consequences of the occupation. Referring to the measures taken by Ukraine for de-occupation, the expert paid special attention to legal claims submitted by Kyiv to international institutions, and emphasised the key importance of the continuation by the international community of the policy of non-recognition of annexation, sanctions pressure on the Russian Federation as well as providing military support to Ukraine.

Ambassador Nepop said the Russian aggression had already taken over 13,000 Ukrainian lives and internally displaced more than 1.5 million of the country’s citizens. Last year, the aggression had taken a new turn when Russia attacked and captured three Ukrainian warships with 24 military sailors. The attack had been carried out in the neutral waters of the Black Sea, meaning that aggression went beyond the territory of Ukraine.

The ambassador called on the representatives of Hungary and other partner countries to continue active support to Ukraine, to secure the release of the Ukrainian prisoners of the Kremlin, to continue pressure on the Russian Federation to fully restore Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, to de-occupy the Crimea and to ensure unconditional compliance by the Kremlin with international law.

The Embassies of Ukraine and Georgia, headed by Ambassador Nepop and Ambassador Zaal Gogsadze, will host a roundtable discussion titled "Ukraine and Georgia: way to de-occupation of its territories" at the Center of Ukrainian Culture and Documentation, 1065 Budapest, Hajos street 1 on 20 March at 3pm, with registration from 2.45pm. The discussion will be held in English, and will feature:
Krisztian Jójart, External fellow of the Centre for Strategic and Defence Studies and a PhD student in Military Studies at the National University of Public Service (Hungary)
Sergiy Gerasymchuk, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Foreign Policy Council "Ukrainian Prism", Head of the South-Eastern Europe Studies (Ukraine)
Maryna Vorotnyuk, Research fellow of the Center for European Neighbourhood Studies of Central European University (Ukraine)


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