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President Kaljulaid at the Crimean Platform Summit

President Kaljulaid at the Crimean Platform Summit © Mattias Tammet


President Zelensky, dear friends,

Two years ago when I visited the Eastern border line in Eastern Ukraine, the village I intended to see came under fire the day before.

Yesterday I visited the armed checkpoint at Chonhar. It separates occupied Crimea from the rest of Ukraine.

I saw people making their way on foot. Women, men, small children. Young and old. Going and coming from occupied Crimea, to see their relatives and close ones. According to the road signs, the road they had to take was surrounded by mines. Suddenly I imagined the three- or four-year-old running off from their parents on to the field to pick a flower.

Dear friends,

It was an eerie feeling. Seeing this forced separation of a country, people and families. In the 21st century. In Europe. Where we long ago decided that each and every nation has the right to decide their future for themselves.

That is why we have the Crimean platform. It is one tool we have to show that we assume together this responsibility to stay our course until the Ukrainian territorial integrity is restored.

We use Crimean platform also to talk about what this occupation means: 

- deterioration of basic freedoms;

- violation of human rights;

- lost homes and broken families;

- militarisation of the Crimean peninsula and the Black Sea.

We have to stay our course and assume the responsibility so that one day there are no armed check points leading to Ukraine’s Crimea and all the women, children and men can return who have been forced to leave from their home.

And meanwhile while we are exercising this strategic patience we can also do more to support all our Eastern partners with European ambition. I am sitting here besides my good friend Charles Michel and therefore I think in Europe we could do more to involve Eastern partnership countries in scientific cooperation, with trans-European network construction and also to help reforms in Eastern European countries with European ambition. We can do more while we stay our course. And we have to think about these women and children and the risk if they run off the road. Thank you dear friends, for being here with us.