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Zelensky at Crimean Platform: Ukraine has clear plan for restoring democracy in Crimea

by Martin Fornusek August 23, 2023 7:47 PM 3 min read
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda (L) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) at the Crimean Platform summit on Aug. 23, 2023. (Source: Presidential Office)
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Ukraine has a clear vision on how to restore democratic life in Crimea upon its liberation from Russian occupation, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his address at the Crimean Platform on Aug. 23.

"Whenever Russia gets involved, violence becomes the norm. We will ensure the rule of law," Zelensky said.

"Throughout the history of Crimea, its ports and roads have been connected to Ukraine and the whole world. Russia has caused the isolation of Crimea. We will return the whole world to Crimea."

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stressed that the ongoing occupation of Crimea is a crime that must be and will eventually be punished: "A crime is a crime, no matter how much time has passed."

Zelensky said that Ukraine took the first steps in making the peninsula once again part of the global economy.

Companies like Ryanair and Royal Haskoning have reportedly announced their readiness to invest, and the restoration of Crimea "is supported by the World Tourism Organization and the World Council for Travel and Tourism, representing more than 200 companies," Zelensky noted.

Kyiv is hosting the third summit of the Crimean Platform, an international consultation and coordination format aimed at ensuring the liberation of the peninsula from the Russian occupation.

Since its inaugural summit on Aug. 23, 2021, it has gathered participants from dozens of countries in Europe, North America, Asia, and elsewhere, as well as non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, including the EU.

According to Kuleba, this year's event has been joined by representatives of up to 67 countries and organizations, attending in person or via video calls. World leaders attending the summit have reaffirmed their commitment to Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, including the occupied peninsula.

"The sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine are unquestionable," said Hungarian President Katalin Novak, whose homeland has been at odds with Kyiv over Budapest's amicable stance toward Russia.

"The liberation of Crimea and restoration of Ukraine's full territorial integrity are necessary preconditions not just for the security of the Azov and Black Sea regions, but also for the stability of the global security architecture," Polish President Andrzej Duda said.

Finnish PM arrives in Kyiv, 18th military aid package to be announced
Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo arrived in Kyiv on Aug. 23 ahead of Ukraine’s Independence Day. At a joint press conference with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Orpo said that his government is preparing to send its 18th defense package to Ukraine, and details will be announced this week.

As Ukrainian forces continue their efforts to retake occupied territories, Zelensky said that the main goal of the Crimean Platform is the liberation of the peninsula, hinting at a military pathway.

"We understand how we will return to Crimea... In the year that has passed since the previous meeting on the Crimea Platform, Ukrainian soldiers have done extraordinary things," the president said during the forum.

"Ukraine has shown that the liberation of our land during military operations is not an accident."

In recent weeks, there have been a number of reports of strikes and explosions occurring on the occupied peninsula, with Ukraine claiming responsibility for some of the incidents. Kyiv officials have repeatedly said that the goal of Ukraine's military efforts is the liberation of the entire country, including Crimea.

Russia has been occupying the peninsula since 2014 after the Euromaidan Revolution ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.

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