EU Commission chief voices concerns over Crimean Tatars' rights being violated under occupation
The EU Commission chief on Tuesday expressed concern over human rights violations in Crimea, a Ukrainian territory illegally occupied by Russia since 2014, including the persecution of Crimean Tatars.
The European Union is “deeply concerned about the human rights violations on the Crimean Peninsula,” Ursula von der Leyen told the Crimea Platform Conference via video link, citing “the disappearances, the torture, the killings, the persecution of Crimea and Tartars,” as well as the intimidation of journalists, lawyers, and civil society activists.
Russia used the illegal 2014 annexation of Crimea as “a testing ground for the brutal methods” it has applied in Ukrainian territories it occupied since the start of the current invasion this February.
“The European Union will tirelessly work with Ukrainian authorities and our partners to expose these violations to hold those responsible accountable and to support the victims,” von der Leyen asserted.
Türkiye, the Council of Europe, and human rights groups have also decried the repression of the Crimean Tatars under occupation, including arbitrary arrests and detentions and the 2016 banning of the Mejlis, Crimean Tatars' representative body.
Von der Leyen also ruled out the bloc ever recognizing the “illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation,” and pledged support for Ukraine to resist the Russian invasion.
Also speaking to the summit, European Council President Charles Michel Michel stressed the importance of restoring “Ukraine’s full territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.”
He reaffirmed Ukraine’s European perspective, asserting that the country’s “future lies within the European Union.”
Launched in 2021 on the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, the Crimea Platform is an international consultation and coordination format with the participation of governments, experts, and international organizations.
Over the past eight years, the EU has applied various sanctions regimes in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol, as well as to the violation Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
The bloc has also slapped seven sets of sanctions against Russia since the beginning of the country’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The packages ban gold, oil, and coal imports, and exports of luxury goods, as well as excluding Russian and Belarusian banks from using the SWIFT international payment system.
EU leaders granted candidate status to Ukraine during their summit in June.