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Crimea in a geopolitical perspective

The association Folkediplomati Norway, which is working on peaceful and constructive cooperation between Norway and Russia, has pointed out several times that sanctions against Russia and against the Crimea are unfair, illegal and lead in a dead end.At our planned conference with the theme" Crimea in a geopolitical perspective " that now had to be displaced due to. the corona virus we would focus on these sanctions.

When such a sensitive issue as the reunification of Crimea with Russia is discussed it is important to hear what people living in the Crimea themselves have to say. Therefore, Alexander Mashchenko, director of the International Department of the Federal University of Simferopol, was invited to us.

Despite the fact that he had all the documents in place and personally went to the Norwegian Embassy in Moscow to apply for a visa, he received it on 27.02. refusal with the following grounds: "Dear Aleksandr, your travel document is not recognized by the Schengen countries. This is in accordance with Annex 10 of the Visa Handbook, Table of recognition of the travel documents, pursuit to Article 4 of the Decision no. 1105/2011 / EU. We don't do exceptions. You are allowed to travel to Norway visa free with your Ukrainian biometric passport". Thus, Alexander Mashchenko is allowed to enter Norway with the "Ukrainian passport». 

Alexander is a Russian citizen, lives in the Crimea and does not have a Ukrainian passport.He therefore asked why he had to apply for citizenship in another country in order to attend a conference in Oslo. He did not receive a response from the Norwegian Embassy. This is just one of many examples of what the West's sanctions mean for freedom of speech and human rights, as we are very busy in Norway. When appropriate. As of today, Alexander, who also is a commentator for the newspaper Парламентская газета (Parliamentary Newspaper), written several articles about this. Two members of the Russian state duma, Franz Klintsevich, Svetlana Savchenko, and senator Vladimir Jabarov (a member of the Føderasjonsrådets Committee for foreign Policy) that the Russian utenriksministeriet submit an official complaint to Norway. "This is the highest degree of hypocrisy.

On the one hand, Europeans tell us about democratic values and how carefully they treat the rights of each individual. On the other hand, this is a violation of the rights of an entire territory, in which the inhabitants of a democratic referendum voted for a reunification with Russia" Savchenko told The Press. Jury Gempel, chairman of the committee on interethnic relations and folk diplomacy in the Parliament of Crimea, told the news agency RIA Novosti: "unfortunately, we can not expect anything else from the Norwegian authorities yet. Double standards are set here.

The time has come for the Norwegian authorities to stop being puppets and hostages of the United States in foreign policy.» The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry commented on our planned conference as an event that underpins Russian propaganda and which is governed by Moscow. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry considers this type of activities to legitimize the "Russian annexation", as ridiculous attempts at a legitimization. Moreover, it is claimed that Moscow with this conference makes use of so-called "apologists" in its service. After all, the authorities of Ukraine were so insecure and frightened that they called 04. march in the Norwegian Ambassador to Ukraine, Ole Terje Horpestad, to confirm that the Norwegian authorities do not turn in question around the Crimea. 

Sanctions against Russia were introduced by Norway, along with other countries, in 2014 due to. the alleged destabilization of Ukraine, and the so-called annexation of the Crimea. 

The measures are initially aimed at 170 key persons, and 44 companies and organizations that have an entry ban in the said country. Funds in these countries are frozen. On the western side it is forbidden for private individuals and companies to import goods from Crimea or invest on Krimhalvøya. At the same time, it is forbidden to drive, travel, or deliver products and services to businesses engaged in energy, oil and gas, telecommunications, transport, technical services, etc. Many multinational enterprises have long since found a way around the sanctions. Products are sold to foreign companies in f.ex.

China and Israel, which have not introduced sanctions, before these deliver the products on to Russian customers and to the Crimea. Those who suffer under the sanctions are private individuals of the Crimea. Applications for a visa to Norway or other EU countries are denied if the person is officially resident in the Crimean Peninsula. Mail from the Crimea does not enter the West. Orders from sites like f.ex. Amazon is not delivered to the Crimea, but deleted.

During several trips to the Crimea, we visited the Federal University of Simferopol, where also Alexander Mashchenko works, to discuss with students. The question we got every time was: - when will the sanctions end? Cooperation with foreign universities is laid on ice, and the exchange of teachers and students with universities in the West is no longer possible. Previously, students used the opportunity to study a year or a semester abroad, and associate professors from abroad came and gave lectures. This is impossible since 2014. Partner universities from European countries have partially officially terminated cooperation.

The students with whom we spoke feel on their own bodies that their development and future are curtailed. Rector of the University of Simferopol, professor Andrey Falaleev, experienced in 2019, that entrants from several European countries were forced to cancel their participation at an international science conference for colleges when they learned that a rector from the Crimea was going to attend. The press spokesman for the Association of college lecturers in Germany confirmed above me in an email that their members had received the recommendation of the ministry to drop the conference for the same reason. Sanctions affect not only Russia, but also the Norwegian and European industries, agriculture and Fisheries.

More economists, banks and corporations in Europe are counting on the sanctions will, or have already hit us more than Russia. The sanctions have made Russia, during these years, have built up a completely new agriculture, and are now as well as self-sufficient in agricultural products. In just a few years, Russia has also become the world's largest exporter of wheat. Do we really think that Russia "delivers" the Crimea back to get into the" good company " again ? What we have achieved with our sanction policy is that Russia is turning to f.ex.

Asia, Africa and Latinamerica, which did not join the sanctions. Sanctions are the tool that the West uses to make the population of the Crimea reject the choice they themselves have taken to become a subject of the Russian Federation. That's never going to happen. The famous American foreign politician Henry Kissinger is quoted with the words: "sanctions are no strategy, but expression of the lack of a strategy.» One time or another, we must recognize the reality and pursue a dialogue with Russia. 

Our government must decide to conduct an independent Norwegian foreign policy that serves Norwegian economic and security policy interests. The earlier we start with it, the less embarrassing it becomes for us and our government. What the West is doing in relation to Russia is unfair and a violation of human rights and freedom of speech in terms of the population of the Crimea.

Hendrik Weber - Leader Folkediplomati Norway

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