First in two years government interagency meeting on de-occupation of Crimea takes place in Kyiv

First in two years government interagency meeting on de-occupation of Crimea takes place in Kyiv
July 21, 2016.

Governmental agencies discuss a series of problems that stem from Crimea occupation as well as coordinate their actions the ultimate aim of which is peninsula’s de-occupation. The issues in focus include access to administrative services and education on mainland Ukraine, protection of cultural heritage and denouncing Russia’s illegal economic activities on the peninsula.

Kyiv, July 21, 2016. First inter-agency meeting on Crimea chaired by the First Vice-Prime-Minister Stepan Kubiv took place on July 21. Representatives of all agencies that are working on de-occupation of Crimea and preserving ties with Ukrainian citizens residing on the peninsula had their say. “They discussed the main work vectors ranging from international lawsuits and supply of goods, water and power, to humanitarian issues including simplifying access to higher education in Ukraine, crossing of the administrative border etc. As a result the First Vice-Prime-Minister issued a respective order for all the involved ministries and agencies so that they coordinate their work in all the envisaged directions as well as make efforts to counteract the developments on the peninsula – attempts to integrate it into the Russian Federation,” said Vadym Chernysh, Ukraine’s Minister on the affairs of the temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons at a press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Kerch Bridge and Ukrainian culture heritage in Crimea

Another point of discussion was construction of the Kerch strait bridge. “Technical side of the issue is to be considered at the order of Stepan Kubiv. These documents and materials need to be provided to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice to use the possibilities in the framework of the Convention on the Law of the Sea,” noted Chernysh. A possibility to file international lawsuits against the Russian Federation on gas extraction in the Ukrainian shelf in the Black Sea as well as the use of bio resources in the Ukrainian territorial waters. These issues are also regulated by the Convention. Another issue in focus was protection of the cultural heritage that remains on the peninsula: Scythian gold, gallery of Aivazovsky art, Chersonese and other cultural monuments and sites introduced into the preliminary list of the UNESCO World Heritage. Pertinent lawsuits are to be prepared as well.

Media coverage of the peninsula

Officials also discussed the problem of TV and radio broadcasting on the territory of Crimea as well as possible threats that result from the influence of Russian broadcasting in Crimea upon Ukrainian citizens residing in the areas adjacent to the administrative border with the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. “We were considering the broadcasting strategy that is to be approved in the nearest time and agreed with all the interested agencies including the National TV and Radio Broadcasting Council,” said Chernysh. “All these issues need additional input. Later on they will then need to be submitted for governmental consideration so that respective decisions are made.” He added that protection of human and citizen rights in Crimea will be considered at an ad-hoc session in which civil society organizations that specialize in these issues will take part.

According to Chernysh there is an ongoing discussion to establish Center for administrative services in proximity to the administrative border with Crimea for Ukrainian citizens residing on the peninsula.

Access to education in Ukraine

Next point on the table was higher education for graduates from Crimea who wish to study in Ukraine. Chernysh noted that the Ministry is closely cooperating with the Ministry of Education and Science. Quotas for the graduates from Crimea are planned so that they are able to enter the universities that moved from the eastern Ukraine or Crimea (also named “universities in exile”), they will be financed from the state budget. “Ministry of science and education will design a special procedure to allow students entering universities in exile based on the results of respective exams without undergoing the external independent testing,” explained the Minister. Chernysh also noted that the Ministry of Education and Science has issued a series of related orders and is ready to provide comments. “According to the Ministry of Education and Science the Russian Federation started to change the timeframe of the educational process in order to oppose the developments that Ukraine started. We see that if the Russian Federation is acting in such a way we are working in the right direction,” added the Minister on the affairs of the temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons.

It was also agreed at the meeting to simplify the procedure of crossing the administrative border for Ukrainian citizens including transportation of goods. “These issues have been agreed with a series of civil society organizations that specialize on Crimea,” the Minister noted. He said that the Service on the affairs of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea has submitted respective changes to the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers no.0135 drafted in cooperation with civil society organizations, however these changes have not been agreed by now by all the agencies involved. “Yesterday we received an order from the First Vice-Prime-Minister to consider this issue separately in the framework of the working group, to coordinate the actions with non-governmental organizations, with the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people, to pass the documents for approval to the two agencies that have not approved it yet and submit it for consideration to the governmental session,” said Chernysh.

“In our opinion the ties with the citizens residing in Crimea need to be not only preserved but also constantly deepened. Then these people will feel themselves part of the Ukrainian society who are forcibly living under occupation. It should also concern all state decisions on Crimea,” the Minister emphasized.

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