The European Union will consider Ukraine's specific ideas on the de-occupation of Crimea, said Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
"The EU welcomes the diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and will consider concrete Ukrainian ideas in this regard, in line with the established non-recognition policy," Borrell said in a statement on the seventh anniversary of the illegal occupation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, which is marked in Ukraine on February 26.
He stressed that the EU firmly defends the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its borders recognized by the international community.
"The European Union reiterates that it does not recognize and continues to condemn this violation of international law. It remains a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of all States," he stated.
The head of the European diplomacy noted that the European Union remains committed to fully implementing its non-recognition policy, including through restrictive measures and cooperation in international fora.
He stated that the European Union calls again on UN Member States to consider similar non-recognition measures in line with the UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262 of 27 March 2014.
"The European Union does not and will not recognize the holding of elections by the Russian Federation in the Crimean peninsula. The increasing militarization of the peninsula by the Russian Federation, including multiple military exercises and the construction of warships, continues to have a negative impact on the security situation in the Black Sea region. In violation of international humanitarian law, Russia has imposed citizenship and conscription into its armed forces on Crimean residents," Borrell's statement reads.
He stressed that the Russian Federation should stop changing the demographic structure on the peninsula by the resettlement of its own civilian population to the peninsula.
Borrell said that the European Union condemns the construction of the Kerch Bridge and the opening of a railway section without Ukraine's consent.
"The EU expects Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage of all ships through the Kerch Strait to and from the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law. The illegal restrictions to such passage are ongoing and have negative economic consequences for Ukraine's ports in the Azov Sea, as well as for the region as a whole," he added.
Since the illegal annexation by the Russian Federation, the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula has significantly deteriorated, he said.
"Having in mind the landmark decision of the European Court of Human Rights of 14 January 2021, the European Union calls for Russia's full compliance with international humanitarian law, international human rights standards, and relevant UN General Assembly Resolutions, including 75/192 of 16 December 2020," the statement says.
The statement says that residents of the peninsula face systematic restrictions of their fundamental freedoms, such as the freedoms of expression, religion or belief and association, and the right to peaceful assembly. Journalists, human rights defenders and defense lawyers face interference and intimidation in their work. The Crimean Tatars continue to be unacceptably persecuted, pressured and have their rights gravely violated.
"Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and all ethnic and religious communities in the peninsula must be ensured the possibility to maintain and develop their culture, education, identity and cultural heritage traditions, which are currently threatened by the illegal annexation. Destructive actions against the peninsula's cultural heritage, such as archaeological treasures, artworks, museums or historical sites, which continue unabated, must stop," Borrell said.
According to him, in compliance with UN General Assembly Resolution 75/192 of 16 December 2020, it is crucial that regional and international human rights monitoring mechanisms as well as non-governmental human rights organizations have unimpeded access to Crimea and Sevastopol.
He said that all pending cases of human rights violations and abuses, such as enforced disappearances, torture and killings, violence, politically motivated prosecutions, discrimination and harassment must be thoroughly investigated.
"All those detained in the Crimean peninsula and sentenced in breach of international law, including Emir-Usein Kuku and his five co-defendants, Oleh Prykhodko, the recently sentenced Enver Omerov, Riza Omerov and Ayder Dzhapparov, must be immediately released. The ban on the activities of the Mejlis, a self-governing body of the Crimean Tatars, must be reversed. Russia must also take measures to improve the environmental situation, which has considerably worsened since the illegal annexation," Borrell's statement reads.