Several German AfD deputies said during a tour of Crimea that they had not seen any signs of a "Russian occupation" of the peninsula.
Roger Beckam, a deputy of the Landtag [legislature] in North Rhine-Westphalia representing the AfD party told reporters on Thursday after a fact-finding mission in the region, that there were no signs of any “Russian occupation” and that most people he spoke to, welcomed a Russian presence.
“Our government has received a note of protest from the Ukrainian government concerning our trip to Crimea […],” Beckam said. “I’d like to state in clear terms we don’t see any kind of ‘Russian occupation’ here. I met people here who told me they wanted to be in Russia for and this is for a long, long time.”
The AfD has expressed concern over the anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the US as well as Brussels over Crimea’s status of a constituent territory of the Russian Federation.
The delegation of deputies representing the Alternative for Germany caucuses in the legislatures of three federal states – North Rhine-Westphalia, Berlin and Baden-Wurttemberg – arrived in Crimea on February 3 for a fact-finding tour.
Beckam said the stories spread by German mass media about the situation in Crimea were “[…] unfortunately, untruthful.”
“We’re glad to acknowledge that a genuine referendum was held in Crimea and we realized the introduction of sanctions was punishment to the people of Crimea, who voted for living in Russia,” he said.
Harald Laatsch, a deputy from the Berlin legislature, supported Beckam’s statements and added that “[…] Crimea belongs to Russia and there’s no occupation.”
“We saw many happy people here,” he told Russian news agency TASS. “It’s true that some individuals speak against reunification with Russia but they are in the minority.”
Similarly, deputy Nick Fogel from Baden Wurttemberg said: “After contacts with people here in Crimea, we can say for sure the sanctions should go, and we’ll begin the discussions on revoking them after we return to Germany.”
He also said the Germans hold no ill-feelings towards Russia. “Opinion polls show there are good feelings towards Russia among Germany’s population,” Fogel said.
On March 16, 2014, the authorities of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol held a referendum on the issue of reunification with Russia in the wake of the February 2014 coup d’etat in Kiev.
More than 80 percent of registered voters voted in favour of reunification, with 96.7 percent in Crimea and 95.6 percent in Sevastopol.
On March 18, 2014, President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty on accession of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to the Russian Federation, and both houses of Russian parliament ratified it on March 21.
In spite of more than convincing results of the referendum, the US and the EU continue to refuse to recognize the results of the plebiscite.