By Talha Yavuz
KIEV (AA) - Ukraine suggested the creation of a Crimean platform as an international coordination mechanism, where Turkey will be a good partner, the Ukrainian foreign minister said.
“I would like to remind you that in 2014 when both Crimea was illegally occupied and the war in Donbass started, Normandy format, and Trilateral Contact Group were set up to handle the Donbass situation. But no international mechanism was created to deal with Crimea. So, we are correcting this mistake,” Dmytro Kuleba told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.
“And I have no doubts that Turkey will be a good partner in this,” he added.
The solution to the crisis is simple, Russia’s withdrawal from territories it occupied and restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty, said Kuleba, adding they are grateful to Turkey for constant and firm support to Ukraine.
“We are grateful to Turkey for consistently and firmly supporting territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, and also the willingness of President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan to engage with the Ukrainian president on resolving issues related to this situation, to this conflict, in particular when it comes to the destiny of Crimean Tatars living under the Russian occupation in Crimea.”
Negotiations in the Trilateral Contact Group -- comprising Russia, Ukraine, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) -- on the solution of the dispute in Ukraine's eastern Donbass region are not going smoothly, said Kuleba, adding Ukraine proposed steps and initiatives to move forward, while the Russian side did not reciprocate.
“But it doesn't mean that we give up. We have to keep moving forward, because we believe in our cause. And the truth is on our side and international law is on our side, and main partners, including Turkey, are also on our side.
"So, I've no doubts that eventually we will succeed in resolving this conflict with Russia.”
- Relations with EU, US
Kuleba said the EU is a good partner for Ukraine and has been supporting the country since the beginning of the conflict, while there is still “a space for improvement”.
“We would like to see the position of the EU special representative for Crimea to be introduced. Because these are the crises taking place not even in the vicinity of Europe, they are [also] happening in Europe, and they deserve special handling,” he added.
Kuleba noted that the Trump administration did a lot for Crimea such as Pompeo Declaration in 2018.
“But at the same time, President-elect [Joe] Biden knows the story of Ukraine and its fight against the Russian aggression from the time he was the vice president under [former] President [Barack] Obama,” he also said.
“He [Biden] will be pretty tough on Russia, when it comes to its aggression against Ukraine. And we will have a comprehensive result-oriented dialogue with his administration on this issue. By the way, President Biden is the first American president in history who does not have to learn the Ukrainian file after being elected, because he already knows that file very well,” he added.
- ‘Russia to eventually withdraw from Crimea’
Kuleba said Russia is systematically suppressing minorities and any groups that do not agree with Russia’s occupation of Crimea.
“Russia is Russifying Crimea. Crimean Tatar Mejlis -- a representative body -- is prohibited. Education in Ukrainian is available to only 0.2% of schoolchildren in Crimea. All these things are clear violations of international humanitarian law,” he stressed.
“I am absolutely confident that Russia will eventually withdraw from Crimea, that Ukraine will regain its sovereignty, Crimean Tatars will return to the peninsula and will enjoy living on their native soil.”
* Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak in Ankara