At the top of the aspirations of the Ukrainian people and government there are, to date, two great challenges: the sense of belonging to a country hard hit by the horrors of war and the conquest of a freedom that, although it seems distant, does not deserve to be considered as an unattainable and utopian goal. The challenge of this country, severely scarred by the evils of a conflict that is increasingly flaring up in the lands that saw it born, starts from the bottom, from where it all originated: it starts from Crimea, a land that has always been disputed between the Soviet Union and time and the Russian Federation today and Ukraine. It starts from the first point of friction between these realities, and does so through an innovative, revolutionary project: the “Crimea Platform”. Initiated by Ukraine, its task is to be able to promote, at an international level, information on what is happening in Crimea, the ongoing occupation, the threats to the security of the Ukrainian people by the Kremlin, the violation of human rights, in order to receive support from countries near and far for the official passage of the region to its original land, Ukraine.
The platform was launched during the inaugural summit in Kyiv on 23 August 2021 and provides for further participation of international organizations, both governmental and non-governmental. There are various sections of internal cooperation within the platform activities, divided between Heads of State and Government, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, parliaments and interparliamentary assemblies and civil societies, whose common aims are five: the consolidation of the policy of non-recognition of the attempted annexation of the Crimea; the efficiency of sanctions and their strengthening; the protection of human rights and compliance with international humanitarian law; the guarantee of security in the Black Sea and Azov Sea regions, through the freedom of navigation; overcoming the negative economic and environmental impact of the occupation of Crimea on the region. The fundamental objective, however, is to bring Crimea back into the area of European stability and protection for the observance of the civil, social and economic rights of the population. In support of the platform, special working groups have been established within the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO (April 27, 2021), the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania (May 11, 2021) and the Seimas of the Republic of Latvia (May 15, 2021).
The most cohesive support for the platform comes directly from its core, the National Office of the Crimean Platform: its function is performed by the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in accordance with the Decree of the President of Ukraine of 13 August 2021 № 359/2021. The establishment of the National Office of the Crimean Platform was provided for in the Joint Declaration of the participants of the inaugural summit. The National Office works in close cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and provides analytical, advisory and expert support necessary to achieve the goals of Ukraine within the framework of the Crimea Platform.
The “Crimean Hub” in Kyiv, i.e. the Office combines the efforts of various displaced Crimean authorities, law-enforcement agencies, NGOs and the Crimea Platform Expert network. The Office of the Crimea Platform is also a cultural space in the center of Kyiv, where artworks related to the Crimean peninsula are exhibited.
To protect the peace in Crimea, all the leaders gathered in Kyiv for the launch of the platform strongly condemn the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Russia and its war of aggression against Ukraine, and in particular its use of the temporarily occupied Crimean peninsula and Ukrainian territorial waters, Russia’s extensive use of military aircraft and warships for missile strikes and attacks affecting Ukrainian civilians and civilian infrastructure, and the use of Crimea for aggression and the military invasion of the southern regions of Ukraine.
To understand the importance of the creation of such platform, it is necessary to take a step back and a historical excursus from which the ever-present geopolitical tensions between the Soviet Union (now Russia) and the Crimean region emerge. The process of accession of Crimea to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of 1954 was conducted in accordance with all legal norms. As a result, the governments and parliaments of the Soviet Union, Russia and Ukraine have taken the necessary legal decisions. The republican constitutions were also modified with the necessary provisions.
Although Russian propaganda attempts to convince the entire world community that Crimea has always belonged to Russia, this is not entirely historically true, as the peninsula was part of Russia for a relatively short period of time. Crimea was part of the Russian Empire from 1783 to 1917. Before 1783, it had been long home to Crimean Tatars – an ethnicity indigenous to the peninsula. Having captured Crimea, the Russian emperors gained control of several European countries, some of which are currently members of the EU and NATO. Crimea was part of Russia (as the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic) only from 1921 to 1954 (excluding the German occupation of 1941-1944), that is, for about 30 years.
Likewise, the Crimean Tatars constituted the peninsula’s ethnic majority until the early 20th century. The Russians became the ethnic majority as a result of repression, persecution and deportation of Crimea in 1944 resulting in at least a third of the entire people having been killed. Even though the Crimean Tatars were rehabilitated from charges of “mass treason” in 1967, they were not allowed to return to their homeland. The mass return of the Crimean Tatars to their homeland was not possible until 1989. But the country that took the key role in welcoming the repatriated Crimean Tatars and helping them to settle was an independent Ukraine. The platform itself is characterized by a relevant ethnic character, which not only aims to promote the fundamental values of peace and freedom, but also defends in a consolidated way the rights of the Crimean Tatars, not forgetting what they have suffered as a people, as individuals. It protects their existence, their needs, aims at greater tolerance towards them and at regaining those rights that seem to have now apparently been forgotten by a contrite and tense historical period between Ukraine and Russia.
The platform is therefore strongly supported also from an international point of view, through forces that come from all European countries in support of the cause promoted by it. The same former leader of the European Central Bank and today’s President of the Italian Council of Ministers, Mario Draghi, spoke at the second summit on the Crimea-Platform, defining “the fight for Crimea as a part of the struggle to liberate Ukraine”. He also added that Italy would continue to support Ukraine, to resist Russia’s invasion, restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and to protect its democracy and independence.
The support of the major European leaders in achieving the objectives of the platform is therefore tangible, and although the international situation appears to be markedly complex, the determination of both the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and the numerous political supporters of a peaceful climate and cooperation against a single common denominator, hatred and war seems not to stop.
A cura di Giulia Galletti