European Interest

Council of Europe will continue to support Crimea and all of Ukraine, says Secretary General

Council of Europe

The situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol has further deteriorated, but the Council of Europe will continue doing all it can to support the people of Crimea and of Ukraine in general, despite Russia’s brutal, illegal and ongoing aggression against the country, stressed Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić, today addressing the Second Summit of the Crimea Platform.

“Our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is steadfast and includes our long-standing opposition to the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Crimea,” she emphasised.

The Secretary General said it was “important to acknowledge that the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol has further deteriorated”, citing her recent meetings in Ukraine with leaders of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatars and with activists, adding that her team has been in consultations with Crimean Tatar representatives, as well as with other human rights defenders and civil society activists. “And we will continue to work with them on ways to shed light on human rights violations”.

Secretary General Pejčinović Burić also mentioned her first report on the human rights situation in Crimea presented in June 2022, in which she highlighted various human rights violations during the ongoing annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.

“There are obvious limits to what can be done given the reality on the ground, but we will do all that we can, and our approach will respond as circumstances change. This is true for Crimea – and for all of Ukraine,” the Secretary General underlined.

She concluded by recalling her meeting in May 2022 with the President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who hosts the Crimea Platform Summit, during which the Secretary General assured him that the Council of Europe will continue to stand in solidarity with his country, “as we all seek a just, sustainable peace, grounded in international law, in which every Ukrainian is able to benefit from the human rights, democracy and rule of law standards that are theirs by right”.

Since the start of the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine on 24 February 2022, Council of Europe experts have been supporting the Office of the Prosecutor General and other agencies in Ukraine. Together with the Ukrainian authorities, it has agreed on an adjusted action plan aimed at supporting reforms, strengthening institutions, including the justice system and the media, and helping member states support Ukrainian refugees who have fled the war.

On 16 March 2022 the Russian Federation was expelled from the Council of Europe.

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