Honourable President Zelenskyy, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for this opportunity to address the inaugural Summit of the International Crimean Platform. Seven years have passed since Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
First, let me reiterate the EU’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. Crimea is Ukraine!
I come from a Baltic country. We know what it means to lose freedom and sovereignty.
Eighty-two years ago today, Hitler and Stalin made their secret pact againstthe freedom of the Baltic nations and other nations throughout Central Europe. The years that followed were bitter and they were long. But we survived and fifty years later, standing together at the “Baltic Way”, we reclaimed this day. With this experience in mind, I look today at the illegal annexation of Crimea.
The EU will continue to support Ukraine’s diplomatic efforts to end the illegal annexation and temporary occupation of Crimea and to retain this issue high on the international agenda.
The illegal annexation of Crimea is a test case for the whole international community as it represents a blatant violation of international law by Russia.
As a response, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures against Russia. The measures were adopted in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine.
We are very well aware of the dire human rights situation in the peninsula. Ethnic Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars, and other residents of Crimea have been particularly affected by Russia’s actions; their fundamental freedoms remain severely restricted.
We are very worried about the lack of international access to the Crimean peninsula, which leaves many severe human rights violations not accounted for.
Despite the ongoing conflict, which is the responsibility of the Russian Federation, Ukraine has been able to advance on the reform path. It has undergone and is continuing to implement a wide range of reforms including public administration reform, decentralisation, anti-corruption, judiciary, macro-economic and digital transformation reform with the EU’s support.
We will continue to support Ukraine to this end.
Since 2014, the EU has mobilised more than € 16 billion in loans and grants to support reform efforts and also implementation of the Association Agreement.
We are convinced that there cannot be a resilient Europe without a resilient Ukraine. The EU has therefore supported Ukraine to strengthen its resilience, including by working on conflict prevention, countering hybrid threats, cyber security, critical infrastructure protection and countering disinformation.
Support for the conflict-affected population remains a priority for the European Union, which includes measures in favour of internally displaced persons as well the restoration of governance and reintegration of veterans. In addition, the region of the Sea of Azov and Crimea are benefitting from special activities within the broader conflict response, including through the recently initiated EU4ResilientRegions programme.
Let me reassure you that the EU will continue supporting Ukraine’s efforts to keep the illegal annexation of Crimea on the international agenda.
Ladies and gentlemen
Tomorrow, Ukraine celebrates 30 years of independence.
Its achievements over the last 30 years are impressive, despite often difficult circumstances.
The EU will continue to support Ukraine, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, its work towards prosperity and closer integration with the European Union. Thank you.