Six years on, the EU does not and will not recognise the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and continues to strongly condemn this violation of the international law. The European Union remains steadfast in its commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Crimea is Ukraine. The European Union remains committed to fully implement this policy, including through sanctions.
We regret that Russia is calling an Arria-formula meeting in a futile attempt to legitimise the illegal annexation and we underline that this action, and our participation here, cannot be interpreted as a recognition of any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
Russia's actions are in blatant breach of international law and key principles of international order. It is a violation of the UN Charter, which prohibits the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State. They are also in breach of plenty of Russia's international and bilateral commitments - the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris, Commonwealth of Independent States Founding Agreement, Budapest Memorandum, the bilateral Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership and the Azov Treaty – to name a few.
As stated in the UN General Assembly resolution 68/262, which was adopted by overwhelming majority of Member States, the so-called referendum organised by Russia in the peninsula in March 2014, has no legal validity and thus cannot form a basis for alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol.
Since the illegal annexation, the ongoing militarisation of the peninsula by Russia has had a serious negative impact on the security situation in the Black Sea region. The building of the Kerch strait bridge without Ukraine’s consent and the subsequent arbitrary inspection regime at the Kerch Strait limits the navigation to and from Ukrainian ports, with negative economic consequences for Ukraine's ports in the Azov Sea and for the whole region.
The human rights situation on the Crimean peninsula has severely deteriorated since the illegal annexation by Russia as documented in the reports by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. A few examples:
All human rights violations must be thoroughly investigated and those responsible brought to justice. We also call on Russia to end abusive use of anti-extremism legislation and to release all illegally-detained prisoners from the peninsula.
In particular the rights of the Crimean Tatars have been gravely violated. Russia has banned the Mejlis, their rightful self-governing body, continues to persecute its leaders, and has shut down Crimean Tatar media outlets. The EU expects Russia to reverse these decisions.
Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and all ethnic and religious communities in the peninsula must be able to maintain and develop their identity. In line with UNGA resolution 74/168, Russia must ensure the availability of education in Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian languages. As documented by the OHCHR, the number of students instructed in Ukrainian decreased to 249 children in 2018/2019, from 12,694 in 2013/14.
As we have repeatedly called, and as confirmed by several UN General Assembly resolutions, including the last one – 74/168 of 18 December 2019, it is crucial that the regional and international human rights monitoring mechanisms as well as the non-governmental human rights organisations have unimpeded access to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol.