German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’s statements on Crimea in the Council of Europe

From the briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, March 4, 2021
Germany has also given us an excuse to comment, but unfortunately not on the positive aspects of our relations. Our German colleagues have recently been fixed on the situation in Russian Crimea. First, the German Ambassador to the UN was concerned about the destiny of Crimean Tatars and alleged that international observers had no access to the peninsula (we have commented on this). Later, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made a statement on the seventh anniversary of Crimea’s reunification with Russia as the Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. His statement was a mix of all genres. He talked about the situation on the peninsula, the decision of the ECHR and for some reason, the Minsk agreements on settling the conflict in Donbass.

We urge Mr Maas and other protectors of the destiny of Crimeans to respect the choice they made in 2014 and stop recounting fairytales about the peninsula while punishing them with sanctions, non-recognition of passports and visa denials. If you, Mr Maas, still want to focus on this issue, start with the facts. Tell your audience about the referendum and try to recall where and when referendums were held in the regions whose self-determination you support. Recall the laws introduced after 2014 to support people from different ethnic communities, who speak different languages in Crimea. Finally, send your representatives there, officials (diplomats from the Foreign Ministry). Let them talk to the people there. Stop relying on inventions and fraudulent stories.

Let us recall that Crimea has again become part of Russia in accordance with the principle of the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act on the right of nations to self-determination. The Crimeans implemented this principle in the most democratic way – by holding a referendum. Don’t forget about this, Mr Maas. This decision is final and is not subject to revision.

We are surprised that Mr Maas, as ex-Justice Minister, so broadly interprets the intermediate ECHR decision of January 14, 2021 on the dispute initiated by Ukraine. In making this decision, the court merely declared its right to consider the case on its merits and concluded that many accusations made by Ukraine against Russia were unfounded. The statement by the Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe looks like an attempt to pressure this judicial body.

Speaking about the Minsk agreements on Donbass, Mr Maas demanded that Russia implement them. Meanwhile, like Germany, France and the OSCE, Russia is just a mediator in the settlement of the conflict between Kiev on the one hand and Donetsk and Lugansk, on the other. This document exists and has been  signed. You know about this, Mr Maas, don’t you? Why do you mislead everyone? You probably forgot that the events in Crimea and Donbass were triggered by the coup on Kiev’s Maidan Square in February 2014, in which Germany along with France and Poland acted as a mediator between the government and the opposition. They persuaded the lawfully elected president not to use force against the far-from-peaceful protesters. At the same time, Berlin became a guarantor of their agreements but did nothing to protect them when the opposition trampled them underfoot. In effect, the so-called mediators and guarantors became accomplices in the anti-Constitutional armed putsch and seizure of power by the nationalist radicals. You are bound to know and remember this. With the tacit consent of the Western community (Germany was in the centre of these events) “the Maidan winners” first resorted to a crackdown of their opponents and then unleashed an armed conflict in Donbass, which still remains unsettled due to Kiev’s reluctance to fulfil the Minsk agreements. This is aggravated by the failure of Germany and France to carry out their part by encouraging Kiev to implement these agreements.

Since Germany is largely responsible for these events, we suggest that Mr Haas address his concerns to himself. We consider his statement to be evidence of Germany’s inability to fulfill the functions of “an honest broker” as the Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. This approach will lead to a split in the organisation. It will negatively affect the atmosphere in the Council of Europe and complicate the preparations for the ministerial meeting of the Committee of Ministers in Berlin in May 2021.

Source: web-page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia