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Jörg Urban is deputy chairman of the AfD fraction in the Saxonian parliament in Dresden.
OPINION

German MP Jörg Urban: ‘Recognize the Crimean Referendum now!’

German AfD MP Jörg Urban demands an immediate stop to the anti-Russian policy of Berlin and Brussels.

Published: January 17, 2017, 2:23 pm

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    For more than 200 years Crimea was part of Russia. The formal change from the Russian Socialist Soviet Republic to the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic in 1954 by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev didn’t influence the cultural history of Crimea. By that time nobody could imagine that the Soviet Union – the successor of the Russian Empire – could disintegrate. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the new sovereign state of Ukraine was inhabited by around 60 percent of ethnic Russians. After that, the people of Crimea – and in Ukraine in general – witnessed 25 years of socio-economic decline. It is therefore not surprising, that during the Crimean referendum in March 2014, 97 percent of the Crimeans voted for a reunification with the Russian Federation.

    Let us take a look into the past: The parliament of the Republic of Kosovo declared its independence on 17 February 2008 – against the will of Serbia. On February 18, the US recognized Kosovo, and Germany followed on February 20. In a legal opinion about the legality of the declaration of independence of Kosovo, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) stated on 22 July, 2010 that the unilateral declaration of the independence of Kosovo didn’t violate the principles of international law. Neither international law nor international treaty law mentions the illegality of unilateral declarations of independence, according to the ICJ. The court further stated that the declaration of independence of Kosovo didn’t violate the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia or Serbia, because the territorial integrity is a principle of international law in the relations between states, but is not valid for inner-state groups. The question about the legal status of the “Kosovo National Assembly” which proclaimed the declaration of independence remained unanswered by the ICJ. The court spoke about “representatives of the people of Kosovo”, thus avoiding legal conflicts.

    The difference between Kosovo and Crimea might be that the Crimean peninsula didn’t just leave the Ukrainian state but immediately joined the Russian Federation. But there was a referendum in Crimea – and not just a decision by a non-legitimized parliament. The case can be compared with the declarations of independence of the former federal republics of Yugoslavia. In May 1991, a referendum in the Socialist Republic of Croatia took place – 94 percent of the voters wanted to leave Yugoslavia. This referendum was boycotted by ethnic Serbs in Croatia. They refused to become an ethnic minority in the new state. Ethnic Serbs in Croatia wanted to declare independence from Croatia and stay in Yugoslavia. Despite of these conflicts, Croatia is still today an internationally recognized and independent state. The result of the secession of Croatia was a bloody civil war in the Balkans.

    Joy after the referendum in Crimea 2014

     

    In Eastern Ukraine it is the Kiev government who pushes for the civil war in the Donbass region. The new Ukrainian constitution was supposed to include federal elements. Until this day, Kiev hasn’t passed a new constitution as was agreed during the Minsk talks. Because of this, the other agreements of Minsk II can’t be implemented.

    The economic consequences of the confrontation with Russia are catastrophic for Germany. Since 2012 – a record year – the German-Russian trade volume decreased from 80 billion to 52 billion Euro in 2015. Especially the German export industry suffered. German exports were almost halved from 38 billion to 22 billion Euro during that period. German business is represented by more than 6 000 companies in the Russian market. To circumvent the trade limitations caused by sanctions, a large number of German companies built factories in Russia and thus invested hugely. In 2013 German business poured 660 million Euro into Russia. In 2014, investments decreased by 90 million, according to the German Bundesbank. But in 2015 there was a change: a positive investment balance of 1,78 billion Euro – similar to the time period before the international financial crisis of 2008. Russian banks speak of an increase of 311 million Euro between 2014 and 2015 (in total 1,3 billion Euro) in direct German investments. These numbers evidently confirm the upticking trend.

    The lesson is clear: Anti-Russian sanctions are politically not justified and not very credible. They don’t support the peace process in Eastern Ukraine, and harm German economic interests by destroying jobs in Germany.

    What should be done:

    • Germany should recognize the results of the Crimean referendum and the reunification of the Crimean peninsula with the Russian Federation. Crimea has witnesses an economic revival today, while Ukraine drowns in mismanagement and corruption.
    • EU sanctions against Russia should be lifted as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the governing German CDU party is the most obstinate advocate for the anti-Russian economic blockade in the whole of Europe. The reason is the CDU’s traditional transatlanticist obedience.
    • The Kiev government should no longer be supported if it continues to block the implementation of Minsk II.

    facts

    Jörg Urban is deputy chairman of the AfD fraction in the Saxonian parliament in Dresden.

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