Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Ukraine’s Poroshenko Calls for Int’l Group to De-Occupy Crimea
In his address to the 72nd UN General Assembly today, Ukraine’s President Poroshenko combined a series of strong denunciations against Russia for being an aggressor-nation and recidivist violator of the UN Charter with a global call for the creation of an international group of friends of Ukrainian Crimea that would de-occupy or liberate the Ukrainian peninsula from Russian subjugation.
“The international community has to keep a close eye on Crimea to prevent a new genocide inspired by modern proponents of Stalin’s totalitarian ideology against the Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians.
“I rely on support of your delegations for Ukraine’s initiatives to ensure observance of human rights in the temporarily occupied Crimea, in particular a further respective UN GA resolution.
“We need to strengthen the international regime of de-occupation of Crimea.
“The fact that at the highest international level – UN General Assembly – Russia was recognized as an occupying power, proves that we are on the right track.
“The time has come to establish an international group of friends of Ukrainian Crimea to coordinate our common steps,” Poroshenko declared, joining colleagues from x-captive nations Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Poland in chastising Moscow for invading and occupying Crimea and Donbas.
Poroshenko, echoing his ideas expressed earlier at the 17th Yalta European Strategy meeting, developed his thoughts for the global community in a way that sharply delineated good from evil, freedom from oppression, and peace from war. He urged the international community to join Ukraine in opposing Russia’s record of crimes and human rights abuses.
Citing numerous examples of Russia’s violations of international accords and norms, the Ukrainian leader ironically said the principle of sovereignty that the UN was established to uphold is being desecrated by Moscow, a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
“When the UN was set up, it was designed to maintain peace and security in the world based on principles of respect for sovereignty and integrity of borders. The founding nations, among those was Ukraine as well, aimed at securing the world where the sovereign right of free choice to be respected,” he said.
“So was this principle to be guarded by P5 (5 permanent members of the UN Security Council – TC) in the name of sustainable peace and security. That was the principle that happened to be so blatantly violated against my own country by one of the P5.”
Poroshenko said millions of Ukrainians have struggled to invest in this “noble endeavor” in the name of sustainable peace and security since the Russian invasion of Donbas and Crimea three years ago.
The Ukrainian president accused Russia of turning Crimea and Donbas into a wasteland of freedom, arresting and incarcerating anyone who even slightly expresses support for Ukraine.
“A three-year-long war with Russia has resulted in 10 thousand people killed, 7 percent of Ukrainian territory occupied, 20 percent of Ukrainian economy and industrial output is seized, destroyed or simply stolen.
“However, the most horrific thing in this situation is that the Kremlin has consciously chosen the tactics of increasing human sufferings.
“The occupied Crimean peninsula, according to the human rights activists, has turned into a territory of repressions. Anyone disagreeing with Kremlin risks their freedom and even life,” he said.
Continuing with his litany of accusations against Moscow, Poroshenko said Russia “blatantly violates” the UN General Assembly Resolution 71/205 on the “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol” that was adopted during the 71st GA session. Russia also ignores all requests of the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure proper and full access of the international human rights monitoring missions to Crimea.
Calling for worldwide monitoring of Russia’s belligerent behavior, Poroshenko said “Such disregard of Russia’s international obligations must receive proper response of the international community. The international community has to keep a close eye on Crimea to prevent a new genocide inspired by modern proponents of Stalin’s totalitarian ideology against the Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians.”
Poroshenko said Crimea is also threatened by Russian militarization, which would affect Southern and Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. He added that Ukraine “strongly condemns” military exercises in occupied Crimea and close to Ukraine’s borders, especially the massive Zapad 2017.
The security and human rights situation in war-torn Donbas is also critical, he said.
“This year Ukraine initiated three major ceasefire attempts: Easter, Harvest and Back-to-School ceasefires. Yet again, Russian occupation troops and their proxies violated them almost immediately.
In breach of the Minsk agreements, Russia keeps its regular military and continues to supply heavy weapons and ammunition to the occupation troops in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It flatly denies the establishment of the OSCE permanent control over Ukraine-Russia border,” Poroshenko said, adding demands for the release of military and civilian hostages and prisoners.
“Stealing other nations’ land… kidnapping people… conducting a hidden war…downing a civilian aircraft… spreading lies globally – is this the kind of behavior we expect from a permanent Security Council member? Russia is not a contributor to international security, but its biggest threat. Today Russia is, perhaps, the only country in the world that has conflicts – hot, frozen or potential – with almost all its neighbors,” he stated.
Attempting an explanation for the war in eastern Ukraine, Poroshenko opined that Ukraine and Russia strive for completely different things.
“Ukraine wants peace and restoration of sovereignty over its territory. Russia wants control over Ukraine and undermines every effort to restore our sovereign control within Ukraine’s borders,” he said.
Poroshenko elaborated on his support for UN peacekeepers to be stationed in the war zone, noting that their mandate must also include the national border between Ukraine and Russia. “As long as the border is used as the main supply route for manpower and weapons to Donbas, there will be no peace in my country,” he added.
Poroshenko believes that “robust international presence” can also help Ukraine cope with the increase of terrorist activities in eastern Ukraine since Russian terrorism is visible in the daily lives of the region’s residents.
Poroshenko labeled the greatest civilian catastrophe of the Russo-Ukraine war of 2014-17, the destruction of flight MH17 with 298 people on board, a “horrible crime” because the missile that destroyed the civilian airliner was launched from Russia.
“The death of the MH17 victims is on Russia’s conscience,” he charged.
Turning to global issues, Poroshenko said Ukraine, which voluntarily surrendered its nuclear weapons, favors a nuclear test ban and condemns North Korean belligerence. He said huge numbers of Russian military assets are deployed to Syria by ships based in Crimea.
Accentuating Ukraine’s commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, Poroshenko said Ukraine’s economy has turned around enough to commit sufficient funds to the campaign.
“Despite heavy defense expenses more than 5 percent of its GDP, Ukraine keeps going through fundamental transformations – fighting corruption, promoting judicial reforms, implementing decentralization, improving business opportunities,” he said. “A year and a half ago the economic situation in Ukraine was so dire that we could only dream about macroeconomic stabilization. Now we have all grounds to say that economic recovery is in place.”
Poroshenko concluded his address with an appeal to the UN member-states, reminding them that the 72nd GA session coincides with the 85th anniversary of one of the deadliest crimes of the 20th century – the crime of Holodomor – the famine-murder of 7-10 million Ukrainian men, women and children.
“Dr. Raphael Lemkin, the author of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, described that destruction of the Ukrainian nation as ‘the classic example of genocide,’” he said. “I appeal to all UN member-states to make their own historic judgment and to make decision by recognizing Holodomor as an act of genocide.”
With a look at the future, Poroshenko described a contemporary world that is divided between those who “believe that freedom is indispensable and those who believe freedom is expendable.”
The Ukrainian leader challenged those who believe in freedom to unite – “It’s time for freedom to be strong, convincing and convinced.”
Scroll down to read Lithuanian President Grybauskaitė’s address at the 72nd UNGA and other posts about President Poroshenko policies and observations about a global bloc to protect liberty and democracy.