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21st Ukraine Breakfast Debate: „The Crimea Platform: A new initiative to reintegrate Crimea“

The 21st Ukraine Breakfast Debate on 27 May 2021 focused on the oppor­tu­nities and poten­tials of the Crimea Platform. Around thirty experts from Ukraine and Germany took part in the online event.

The Crimea Platform was launched in 2020 at the initiative of President Volodymyr Zelensky. As an inter­na­tional forum, it is intended to facil­itate exchange between Ukraine and its partners on the situation in Crimea and to develop joint positions. It is embedded in a strategy of the National Security and Defence Council (RNBO) to end the occupation of Crimea by political means and reinte­grate the peninsula. Ljudmyla Melnyk, Project Manager of GURN 2 at the IEP Berlin opened the event. After­wards, the three speakers presented their perspec­tives on the Crimea platform. They were Wilfried Jilge, expert at the Berlin Center for Inter­na­tional Peace Opera­tions (ZIF), Oleksiy Melnyk, Co-Director of the think tank Razumkov Centre in Kyiv and Dr Susan Stewart, Head of the Research Department on Eastern Europe and Eurasia at the German Institute for Inter­na­tional and Security Affairs (SWP).

The partic­i­pants agreed that the Crimea Platform was an initiative worth supporting. However, there were different arguments regarding its concrete form. Several aspects have to be taken into account: On the one hand, the Russian occupation of Crimea should be seen in the larger context of the militari­sation of the Black Sea region. This has conse­quences for the security of Ukraine and inter­na­tional navigation, not only in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, but also for Ukrainian port cities in the northwest of the Black Sea. In the view of some observers, the Crimea Platform could contribute to inter­na­tional monitoring of the situation in the region.

The initiative envisages meetings at the highest diplo­matic level and key officials would be involved in its imple­men­tation. Given the multiple domestic challenges Ukraine is currently facing, in particular a profound reform agenda, the question of available resources and Ukraine’s capacity to success­fully advance both the reforms and the initiative was also raised.

At the request of the breakfast debate’s partic­i­pants, the water supply to Crimea from the mainland and its signif­i­cance for future disputes and possible negoti­a­tions between Ukraine and Russia were also discussed. In addition to Germany’s potential role in the Crimea Platform, the reactions of inter­na­tional partner countries so far were debated. Among other things, this involved the role of Turkey, which has already confirmed its support for the Platform, but on the other hand must consider Russia’s interests concerning Syria. The question of adding an economic dimension to the goals was also raised. One partic­ipant remarked that the discus­sions on a possible reinte­gration should not only be about the territory, but above all about the people living there. During the discussion, it was also highlighted that Ukrainian civil society already has a strong expertise on Crimea and should definitely be involved in the Platform’s work.

Analysis to listen to: Learn more about the Crimea Platform in the new episode of our podcast UkraineMEMO. On this page you can find more infor­mation and stream or download the podcast via your preferred platform. We hope you will enjoy listening!

The Ukraine Breakfast Debates are part of the project “German-Ukrainian Researchers Network” (GURN 2). The aim of the project is to strengthen cooper­ation between German and Ukrainian think tanks as well as expertise in the field of policy analysis and to promote bilateral dialogue and knowledge transfer. GURN 2 is imple­mented in close cooper­ation with the Ilko Kucheriv Democ­ratic Initia­tives Foundation (DIF, Kyiv), think twice UA (Kyiv) and the New Europe Center (NEC, Kyiv). It is kindly supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.