The Special Representative of the Head of the OSCE in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group for the Settlement of the Situation in the Donbass, Martin Saydik, speaking at an international forum in Austria, reminded the audience that Crimea had been part of Russia for many years. According to him, this should be realized for a more objective understanding of the Crimean issue.
Held in Salzburg, Austria, the traditional Salzburg Europe Summit forum was dedicated to resolving conflicts in Europe. As part of the panel discussion “Ukraine - Russia - the chances of a peaceful settlement,” Saydika was asked to comment on the issue of holding elections and a referendum in Crimea in 2014.
At first, he declined to comment, because now, according to him, he, as an official representative of the OSCE, cannot freely express his personal opinion, since this issue is not his responsibility.
“I ask you to understand that I do not express a position on the topic of Crimea, since I am a special representative and my area of activity is Donbass. When I am retired, I will be a free man, so to speak, then I can already comment on the topic of Crimea, ”said Saydika.
However, later the Austrian diplomat again took the floor and noted that although he does not indicate his position on the Crimea, the participants in the conference should know: during the Soviet Union, the peninsula was part of Russia for about 30 years, then 37 years as part of the Ukrainian SSR, and before that - as part of the Russian Empire.
The Ukrainian ambassador to Austria, Alexander Shcherba, who was present at the forum, was surprised at the words of the OSCE representative and expressed hope that this was due to the lack of a more detailed commentary at that time.
“I was surprised that the OSCE Special Representative could not say anything about the annexation of Crimea, except for the background of the issue. I hope that he simply did not have enough time for a complete answer, ”he told Ukrinform.
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“We have to recognize reality”
Commenting on these statements by the OSCE Special Representative, Russian President’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov agreed that many foreign officials are now forced to hide their position on the Crimea, or to express it carefully.
In turn, State Duma deputy from the Crimea Ruslan Balbek noted that international organizations are gradually beginning to realize that the peninsula, for objective reasons, has reunited with mainland Russia.
“The days of Western bravado over Russia are over, and now officials have to grit their teeth, step over themselves, and admit objective reality. We have to say things that are unpleasant for the Western establishment and even, as they say, “dig a story” in order to explain Russia's position in the Crimea, ”the source said.
Recall that last summer, the ex-Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroeder stated that Crimea reunited with Russia legally and noted that the peninsula is “old Russian territory”. Legally, according to him, in 2014 "there was no separation, but approval from the population, so there was no act of aggression."
A similar position in the past was expressed by other European politicians. In particular, the former president of France, Valerie Giscard d'Estaing, emphasized that at one time the peninsula was recaptured by Russia "from the Turks and Turkish vassals", and then developed as Russian territory. Back in 2015, he noted that if there is any doubt about the current status of the peninsula, in the future you can "arrange a referendum with classic international guarantees."
"Going for the US is unprofitable"
The issue of belonging to the Crimean peninsula is already leaving the agenda in Europe, said Viktor Vodolatsky, deputy chairman of the State Duma’s committee on CIS affairs, Eurasian integration and relations with compatriots.
“The message made suggests that today at the sites of the European Union and Western international institutions, the issue of Crimea is gradually coming out of the discussion,” he stressed in an interview with RT.
“For five years, everyone understood that it would be unprofitable and expensive to follow the lead of the United States and play their tune; the economies of these countries that used to work with Russia are in decline. Each of them understands that it is time to return to the rails from which relations with Russia have gone, including phasing out the sanctions, ”he explained.
A significant contribution to the rethinking of the assessment of the events of 2014 was made by the participation of representatives of the Crimea in the work of international organizations, the Crimean deputy Vladislav Ganzhara is convinced.
“Indeed, immediately after the referendum, a very large number of officials and society had the image that Crimea was illegally occupied - this position was broadcast very powerfully. The past five years have allowed us to significantly change this external view and create an understanding among everyone that Crimea is Russia, ”he emphasized.
Ganzhara also recalled that in September 2019, an OSCE conference was held in Warsaw, where Crimean journalists and public figures spoke. According to the politician, the words of the representatives of the Crimea “found support among colleagues” representing European states.
“Now European countries themselves are looking for windows of opportunity to establish cooperation with Russia: the OSCE, PACE and other organizations. The implementation of many common projects suggests that the issue of Crimea’s ownership is finally closed, ”the deputy summed up.