The Crimea Platform initiative is an important tool that will not allow the issue of Russia's occupation of the Crimean peninsula to be left out of the international agenda and is expected to facilitate deoccupation.
That’s according to the participants in the international discussion titled "Crimea Platform, the beginning of the end of the occupation?" held in Warsaw in a hybrid conference mode on Thursday, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
During the discussion, Ukrainian Ambassador to Poland Andriy Deshchytsia noted that Russia's occupation of Crimea more than seven years ago came as a shock to Ukraine and the entire international community. According to the envoy, Ukrainian diplomacy then managed to build a coalition of powers that condemned Moscow's action.
He stressed that the Crimea Platform Summit, held in Kyiv in late August, was a notable international event. He said the statements by heads of state and government who took part in the summit, as well as their joint declaration, were "very resolute."
"Now there is a need for the topic of Crimea to return to the agenda of international politics," Deshchytsia stressed.
He noted that the Platform was launched to make this topic relevant worldwide again and to develop a strategy for the liberation of Crimea.
The Ambassador of Ukraine thanked Poland, and in particular President Andrzej Duda, for continued support for steps aimed at restoring Ukraine's territorial integrity and strengthening sanctions against Russia.
The representative of the President of Ukraine for the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Anton Korynevych, who joined the online discussion, stressed that the occupation of Crimea by Russia should be discussed at all international forums.
"We sincerely believe that by uniting the efforts of Ukraine and the international community, and demonstrating a pro-active stance within Ukraine, we will bring the moment of the Crimea closer," Korynevych stressed.
He said the August summit of the Crimea Platform concluded in a "very strong, positional document" that actually covers all key issues related to the deoccupation of the Crimean peninsula. He noted that Ukraine had never previously had such a comprehensive document signed by more than 40 heads of state and government and leaders of international organizations, which would address all issues related to the Russian occupation of Crimea.
At the same time, the President’s envoy for the ARC pointed out that the Platform is important not only in the international dimension, but also in that within Ukraine. He noted that a package of bills had been tabled in the Verkhovna Rada, including those concerning Russia's illegal actions in Crimea and the issue of the release of Ukrainian political prisoners. Korynevych expressed hope that the bills on Crimea will soon be passed.
“We’d like to show that the Platform really changes people's lives. We are currently launching an educational portal for Ukrainian youths in Crimea. It will contain all the necessary information regarding the admission of Crimean youths to Ukrainian universities,” the Ukrainian official said.
Korynevych also said that a few days ago in Kyiv, the "Virtual Museum of Russian Aggression" was presented in an online format. Those visiting the homepage will find information on dozens of documented facts in the context of Russian aggression in Crimea.
"We are not going to stop, because we have a clear understanding of how to move forward. Within the framework of the Platform, we can do a lot both inside the country and beyond,” Korynevych emphasized.
In turn, the Secretary of State of Poland’s Presidential Office, chief of the Bureau of International Policy Jakub Kumoch stressed that Poland actively opposes the occupation of Crimea, considering it a violation by Russia of international norms on the inviolability of other countries’ borders.
"In Poland, neither now nor in the future will there be options for considering Crimea as part of non-Ukrainian territory. Crimea is Ukraine and this is what President Andrzej Duda says, this is what every Polish politician and official will say,” said the official.
Kumoch noted that not only did Duda arrive in Kyiv to participate in the Crimea Platform summit in August, he also mentioned the initiative recently at the UN General Assembly summit in New York.
"Poland will always support Ukraine and will never stop. However, there is a question: can we count on Western partners in this context? We must constantly remind them of this," said the Polish official.
He stressed that the condemnation as such is not enough because at the same time some countries are doing business with Russia. According to him, it is impossible to move to a policy of "business as usual" in relations with Russia, given the facts of the occupation of Crimea, Russia's armed aggression in eastern Ukraine, and aggressive moves targeting other countries.
Kumoch expressed his conviction that Russia must agree with the fact that Crimea will never become a taboo theme and that most countries do not recognize the Crimea grab by Russia.
Other Ukrainian and Polish experts also took part in the discussion, drawing attention to the importance of the Crimea Platform and the existing problems on the path of deoccupation of the Crimean peninsula.