France reaffirms condemnation of the illegal annexation of Crimea [fr]
Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council Arria-formula meeting - 21 May 2020
It is very helpful to be able to once again publicly express our condemnation of the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by Russia in 2014. This annexation was and continues to be a violation of international law, in particular the United Nations Charter and the Budapest Memorandum and by which Russia undertook in 1994 to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine, as my German colleague just said. France does not and will not recognize this annexation. We support the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and full sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders. This is the EU position as well.
I take note of the personal opinion expressed by the speakers at this meeting. For my part, I recall the concerns expressed at the meeting on 6 March about the deteriorating human rights situation in the peninsula. These concerns had been expressed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, who reported about cases of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment, torture and lack of medical assistance in prison in particular. This picture had been drawn up on the basis of a remote assessment, as the Office of the High Commissioner still does not have unconditional access to the territory, and we urge Russia to grant this access. Two representatives of civil society also described the consequences of the illegal annexation of the Crimea for the human rights of the inhabitants of the peninsula.
The annexation of Crimea also led to an increased militarization of the peninsula. This is an additional and worrying source of tension. The deployment of Russian troops and armaments on that territory destabilises the region. The serious naval incident of 25 November 2018 underlines the need for safe, free and unimpeded passage for both commercial and military vessels through the Sea of Azov and the Strait of Kerch, in accordance with international law. In his last report, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also reported that nearly 21,000 Crimean conscripts were enlisted into the Russian armed forces and sent to military bases in the Russian Federation since 2014, in violation of international humanitarian law. We call on the Russian Federation to stop illegal conscription in Crimea and to comply with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
I wish to recall that France, together with Germany, continues to step up efforts to inject new momentum into the political resolution of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. During a summit of the Normandy format in Paris on December 9, Heads of State and Government, meaning President of Ukraine, President Putin, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron, agreed on conclusions that draw a clear, progressive and pragmatic line. We will continue to mobilize for the implementation of these conclusions: our Ministers of Foreign Affairs gathered on April 30th to take stock of the application of the immediate measures needed on the ground, in particular with regards to the ceasefire and humanitarian issues. This is all the more important in a context where civilian populations are suffering even more as a result of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dear colleagues, in conclusion, we have to recall that it is not Ukraine that has violated Russian sovereignty, nor is it Ukraine that has illegally annexed Russian territory. It is therefore up to Russia to take the first step. In this regard I would like to ask our Russian colleagues whether Russia, for example, could allow international human rights protection mechanisms unhindered access to the Crimean Peninsula in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly?
I thank you.