Thuggish behavior of Russia cannot remain unanswered, impunity leads to even bigger crimes. The international response on Russia’s actions against Ukraine must be rigorous and clear. This was stated by Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze in a statement at the Summit of the Heads of Government of the Central European Initiative (CEI) in Zagreb, the Republic of Croatia.
She stressed that, apart from a clear condemnation of Russia's behavior with an urge to ensure unhampered navigation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, the European partners of Ukraine could raise the issues of Russian aggression at the next meeting of the European Council in December and demand the immediate release of the captured Ukrainian military.
"We urge the CEI countries to condemn Russian armed aggression against Ukraine in accordance with the norms and principles of international law. We expect our partners to maintain unity in supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. This is the only way to secure stability and peace in our region", said Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze.
The Croatian Prime Minister, who heads the CEI, also stressed the deterioration of the security situation in the region. "We are concerned about the situation in Ukraine, namely in the Kerch Strait and the Azov Sea. Three Ukrainian ships and their teams were captured by Russia. This is unacceptable and a severe violation of international law. We express our full support to the international efforts to resolve the situation with full respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine", said Andrej Plenković.
Addressing the CEI countries, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze stressed that none can feel protected from hybrid attacks. "Having established to promote European integration and cooperation among participating countries, today CEI is gaining new significance in the context of new threats in the region. We represent the countries whose citizens have dreamed or are still dreaming of their countries becoming part of the space of freedom, well-being, and security, part of the European family. Russia's aggressive policy is our common challenge both for countries that are already members of the EU and NATO, as well as for those who have aspirations to join", said the Vice Prime Minister.
At the same time, she stressed that Ukraine is already a contributor to European security, and further cooperation with the NATO will strengthen not only its sustainability in the face of the aggression, but also the security of the entire region.
"We have every opportunity to become the eastern front of NATO's security structure with the army, which is building up its forces and gaining expertise day after day", said the Vice Prime Minister.
Speaking about the challenges of European integration, she stressed that both the Western Balkans countries and the EU's eastern neighbors require an active involvement of the EU. "I am convinced that the European project will not be sustainable and successful without due attention from the EU to the fate of both the southern and eastern European countries", said Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze. "Declarations are insufficient, actions are necessary. Otherwise, the European values in the countries in the countries bordering Europe in the south and east will be replaced with completely different values."
She also noted that Ukraine expects to deepen cooperation and economic integration with the EU through regional projects with the CEI countries. Ukraine is the participant of the Danube Transnational Programme and has also signed, together with CEI members, inter alia Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia the Declaration on the Establishment of a New Macroregional Strategy for the Development of the Carpathian Region. "We are striving to jointly solve the problems of development of local infrastructure, renewable energy, tourism and recreation, preservation of cultural heritage and other sectors", emphasized Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze.
One of the priorities defined by the CEI Action Plan for 2018-2020 is improving transport communication. "We must work in synergy to develop the best solutions for integrating transport infrastructure into future transit corridors, accounting for the priority needs of each of the states", said the Vice Prime Minister. Ukraine can offer the possibility of combining the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route with the Baltic-Black Sea Transport Corridor, using existing projects.