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Speech by President Charles Michel at the inaugural session of the ICPS

Speech by President Charles Michel at the inaugural session of the ICPS

Dear President Zelensky, dear Volodymyr, dear friends, dear colleagues,

Crimea is Ukraine and I am glad to be here with you for this first Crimean Platform Summit, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence.

And I will go straight to the point: independence means sovereignty; and it means territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders. I am here to reaffirm the EU's unwavering stance: we do not and will not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia. We will continue to staunchly enforce our non-recognition policy. And we will stand tall against any violations of international law.

Such illegal actions bear - and will continue to bear - a heavy cost: the restrictive measures imposed by the EU, and regularly reinforced since 2014, serve as a clear demonstration of that. These measures are complemented by comprehensive guidelines that restrict EU activities on the peninsula: our aim is to make sure that the illegal annexation will in no way be legitimized.

As you well know, the EU has also put in place measures to mitigate the consequences of the annexation for Ukraine, with a focus on the Ukrainian regions adjacent to Crimea. They are part of our unprecedented support to Ukraine across the board and in the context of our ambitious Association Agreement: the EU has dedicated more than 16 billion euros to your country since 2014.

The illegal annexation and the situation in and around Crimea must remain high on the international agenda. This is why the International Crimean Platform has our utmost political support. The illegal annexation constitutes an affront to the very rules-based international order in which we all have a vital interest in preserving. This is why we call for the broadest international support possible in addressing the annexation of Crimea, through non-recognition measures and advocacy in international fora.

Unfortunately, Russia continues to act in ways that multiply the negative impact of the annexation. The continued militarisation of the peninsula heavily affects the security situation in the Black Sea region. This should be reversed. The human rights situation remains dire, due to Russia's efforts to forcibly integrate the peninsula into its mainland. The Crimean Tatars continue to be persecuted, pressured and have their rights gravely violated. All this and ongoing destructive actions against the peninsula’s cultural heritage must stop.

As we mark the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, the EU will continue supporting the Ukrainian people on their path, on your path, towards a stable and prosperous future.

We want to reiterate that Ukraine will never be alone and that Crimea is Ukraine.

Thank you.

Source: Barend Leyts (European Council)

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