“It would be right to recognise Crimea as part of Russia. Crimea will never return to Ukraine. The sanctions are of no use”, said Mr Gauland in an interview with Berliner Morgenpost.
The Chancellor candidate added that the Western countries should seriously reconsider the policy towards Russia and its integration in the EU. “We must accept it (Russia) into our European family. We need to stop inferring Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance against each other”, said Gauland.
The candidate for Germany’s highest public office thus joined a large number of European politicians who publicly support the Russian status of Crimea. Alexander Gauland is not the first high-ranking representative of AfD to recognise Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Marcus Pretzell, his fellow party member and Member of the European Parliament, made the same statement in April 2016 in Yalta, within the framework of the Yalta International Economic Forum.
“Despite some concerns on the part of Western governments about the legitimacy of this association, I have no doubts about its legality”, said Mr Pretzel during his visit to Crimea. “The Crimean territory was transferred to Ukraine in 1954 by a random decision of the Soviet government; and this is now being reasonably corrected. In this regard, I am strongly against any sanctions against Crimea and the Russian Federation as a whole.”
A number of German political forces, along with AfD, declare the need to recognise the reunification of Crimea with Russia at the EU level. Christian Lindner, leader of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), said in early August that Europe’s security and well-being largely depended on relations with Russia, and called for an improvement in them, adding that the European Union should consider the Russian status of Crimea as a “temporary decision for an indefinite period of time”. Later, this position was supported by Sahra Wagenknecht, leader of the German Left Party, who emphasised: in relations with Moscow, it is necessary to return “to the traditions of detente”.
The statements made by the German politicians reflect the views of the country’s population: according to a poll conducted in Germany, 44% of the citizens support Christian Lindner’s position, and 43.2% of the respondents expressed their disagreement with it.
The highest level of approval of Lindner’s position was among the supporters of the German Free Democratic Party (65.5%), Alternative for Germany Party (60.5%), and CDU/CSU Party Alliance (46.4%).