The possibility of a peninsula: EU countries have conflicting attitudes towards Russia, Crimea

EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV

A Protester wearing a Putin mask holds an apple during a rally in protest against the Russian military actions in Crimea, in St. Petersburg, Russia, 08 March 2014.

The possibility of a peninsula: EU countries have conflicting attitudes towards Russia, Crimea


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Lithuania is one of the EU countries that regularly and firmly remind the word that Russia’s annexation of Crimea was illegal and that sanctions against Russia should continue until it leaves the illegally occupied peninsula.

On the occasion of the second anniversary of Crimean occupation, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry posted on its website a statement saying:

“We will never recognize the illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea started two years ago. We will seek the EU and the international sanctions towards the Russian Federation related to the peninsula occupation continue for as long as Russia does not withdraw from the illegally occupied territory”.

“We also express concern on the continuing and increasing number of systematic human rights violations and the crackdown on the media in the Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol city after the annexation of the territory. We are worried about repression against the Crimean Tatar minority, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly restrictions. We regret that Crimea famous in the past for respect for different cultures and cultural heritage included in the UNESCO heritage list, after the annexation has become a symbol of Russian Federation’s militarism,” the statement says.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry reminded that the international community clearly recognized that the Russian Federation’s military aggression, launched two years ago in the Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea and currently continued in Eastern Ukraine,  was a serious violation of international law, the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the Budapest Memorandum of 1994.

L:ithuania’s position starkly contrasts with the careful neutral position od other EU member countries, or with the Russia-friendly attitude exhibited by countries such as Hungary. On the very day, Monday, when the Lithuanian foreign ministry was making public the above declaration, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said there will not be an automatic extension of sanctions against Moscow.

“At the end of the first half of the year a serious debate can be expected within the EU about the fulfillment of the Minsk agreement,” Orban told Hungarian ambassadors.

“In other words, there won’t be an automatic extension of sanctions against Russia, and whatever decision we will make, that should be preceded by a calm and objective analysis about the Minsk agreement,” he added.

Orban’s government has granted a deal to Russia’s Rosatom to build new reactors at Hungary’s nuclear power plant, and has promoted what it calls a “pragmatic” good relationship with Russia. Orban visited Moscow earlier this month. (with AP, Reuters)

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