By Rostyslav Averchuk
Lviv, Ukraine, Sep 16 (EFE).- Ukraine’s first deputy minister of foreign affairs, Emine Dzhaparova, believes the liberation of the peninsula annexed by Russia is “a very close prospect” while denouncing the growing persecution faced by the Tatar minority in Crimea.
“Russia has been trying to colonize the peninsula,” she tells Efe in an interview, adding that up to one million Russians have moved to Crimea since its illegal annexation in 2014 while many Ukrainian citizens have left due to “massive violations of human rights”.
According to Dzhaparova, who is a Crimean Tatar, the situation for the minority has been worsening since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.
She says that out of the 148 political prisoners in Crimea, 105 are Crimean Tatars who have been charged with terrorism even though they have not committed any violent acts.
“Crimea, which used to be a thriving tourist Mecca, has become a military base, a fortress and a concentration camp,” the politician says.
Liberating Crimea is critical “for Europe, for regional security and stability, as well as for global food security”, Dzhaparova continues.
The deputy minister’s goal to secure international recognition that Crimea must be returned to Ukraine was already reached during the Crimea Platform summit on August 23, organized by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and attended by representatives from 60 countries and international organizations, including 37 heads of states and the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“The summit exceeded our expectations”, says Dzhaparova.
Participants expressed their support for Kyiv’s position that the war should end with “a complete victory for Ukraine and the liberation of all occupied territories, including Crimea,” Dzhaparova says.
Ukraine and Croatia will hold the first parliamentary summit of the International Crimea Platform in Zagreb on October 25, where delegates are expected to inaugurate a mechanism ensuring that various countries adopt legislation needed to strengthen sanctions against Russia, introduce a legal ban on visiting Crimea and on entering into any agreements with the Russian-appointed administration.
“We know that (Russian president Vladimir) Putin personally called the leaders of some countries to persuade them not to participate in the summit”, Dzhaparova says.
While the peninsula is still under occupation, leaders in Kyiv are actively discussing Crimea’s future once it is back under Ukrainian control.
At the summit in August, Ukraine’s prime minister Denys Shmyhal announced post-war plans to transform Crimea into a European-level resort and a major transport hub.
Dzhaparova says it is too early to talk about what awaits the hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens who have moved to Crimea since 2014 but insists that they will not be granted Ukrainian citizenship.
“If we want stability and security on the peninsula, they should be given the opportunity to return to their homeland, Russia.”
Ukraine’s successful resistance and assistance from allies has made the liberation of Crimea ever more likely, Dzaparova says.
“This is no longer a strategic goal, but a very close prospect.” EFE