Harvard University Ukrainian Research Institute published a report on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of Crimea's occupation by Russia, revealing experts' comments about the general sentiment in Ukraine around the issue of Crimea and its annexation, President Zelensky’s potential policy moves toward de-occupation and reintegration, and the role of the Crimean Tatar community.
Mr Rustem Umerov, Ukrainian MP, member of the Ukrainian Delegation to PACE and delegate of the Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People, provided an assessment highlighting the role of Crimean Tatars to resist Russian aggression.
Opinion polls reveal there is no doubt that Crimea is Ukraine
Mr Umerov emphasised that according to recent opinion polls, most people in Ukraine agree that Crimea is Ukrainian territory.
"According to the New Europe Center’s nationwide opinion poll (presented last December), 32.78% of respondents, while answering the question, “Which is the most promising option for regaining Crimea?” consider it necessary to create a specific international negotiating platform. Further, 26.85% opted for restoring cultural, educational ties. More than 20% of respondents are sure that the naval presence of Ukraine and partner countries in the Azov and Black Seas should increase," he explained.
Umerov asserted that some believed a military operation was necessary to restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
"Recently, the School for Policy Analysis at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy presented another public opinion poll, “The Future of Donbas and Crimea: Public Sentiment.” In the context of the de-occupation of Crimea, 37% of respondents agreed to a military operation to restore Ukraine's territorial integrity," he added.
Ukraine gives a clear message
Undoubtedly, Mr Umerov said, the Ukrainian President's statement on Crimea is crucial, as it shows that Crimea is the focus of attention of the leadership of Ukraine.
"The President has given a clear message to our international partners, as well as to Ukrainian citizens, including those living in the temporarily occupied Crimea, that we have a vision of how to de-occupy Crimea and protect the rights of Ukrainian citizens in Crimea who are subjected to persecution on political grounds."
Ukraine needs strong international support
Recalling that the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine approved the Strategy for De-occupation and Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories, Umerov underlined that Ukraine needs international support.
"Given Russia’s aggressive foreign policy, military activities, and weaponization of information, Ukraine needs strong international support, including a policy of sanctions, which has proved its effectiveness."
Putin’s Russia: The most acute threat to the democratic world
The Ukrainian politician told that Ukraine's foreign partners recognize Putin’s Russia as the most acute threat to the democratic world.
To support his statement, he gave the examples of latest developments such as the statement of NATO Secretary-General on the Alliance's plans to expand its presence in the Black Sea region; the UK’s Integrated Review of foreign and security policy; as well as the joint statement of the G7 foreign ministers and the High Representative of the European Union, welcoming the Crimean Platform initiative.
Crimean Platform must be an element of security arc in broader area
According to Mr Umerov, the Crimean Platform is important in a broader context and it must be an element of the security arc from the Baltic states to the Middle East, where the democratic world is holding back Russian hybrid aggression.
"In my opinion, the full-scale Crimean Platform should focus on the following issues: security of the Black Sea region; de-occupation of Crimea; protection of human rights; release of political prisoners and protection of the rights of the Crimean Tatar people."
The Member of Ukrainian Parliament said that many tasks of the Crimean Platform should be implemented at the parliamentary level, therefore, lawmakers have established the inter-factional group "Crimean Platform" in the Verkhovna Rada.
Crimean Tatars play an important role
As indigenous people of Ukraine, Umerov asserted, Crimean Tatars play an important role in the resistance to Russian aggression.
"The Crimean Tatar people are part and parcel of strengthening and reaffirming Ukraine’s firm stance on Crimea globally."
The protection of the rights and interests of the Crimean Tatar people should be part of the Crimean Platform, Mr Rustem Umerov concluded.