Georgy Muradov, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Crimea under the President of the Russian Federation;: Branches of the “Friends of Crimea” International Association were opened in Bulgaria, Greece, and in Serbia.
The “Friends of Crimea” International Association is a public association intended to use grassroots diplomacy to restore constructive cooperation between Russia and the West and to establish comprehensive cross-border ties with the participation of the Republic of Crimea. The “Friends of Crimea” International Association was spearheaded by the French financier and investor Jean-Pierre Thomas. At the 3rd Yalta International Economic Forum (YIEF) in April 2017, M. Thomas proposed establishing a standing association of foreign politicians and public figures supporting Crimea as part of Russia and advocating lifting the sanctions.
The annual Friends of Crimea Forum held as part of the business program of the Yalta International Economic Forum will be the principal event of the “Friends of Crimea” International Association.
“The Forum’s participants called upon the attendees to found “Friends of Crimea” clubs [in their home countries] and to steer the course for normalizing relations with Russia… Such clubs are already emerging. I know that they have been opened in Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, and the work continues,” Mr. Muradov said in an interview to TASS.
Mr. Muradov did not rule out the possibility of a “Friends of Crimea Club” being established by citizens of Ukraine, but not in their home country. “Ukrainians may found a “Friends of Crimea” group, but not in Ukraine itself,” he said. “The way Ukraine is today, nothing constructive and positive for Crimea may be established there,” he added.
The first Friends of Crimea Forum and the annual international conference “Crimea in Today’s International Context” were held in Yalta on November 5–7 and assembled 90 international participants from more than 30 countries. The Forum was attended by eminent politicians, ministers, MPs, leaders of the countries’ ruling political parties, members of regional executive authorities, prominent public figures. Participants came to the conference from four continents. “But it was not just the geographical span that made this a unique event for Crimea. It was unique because of the goals posited by its organizers,” the TASS article says.
“The Forum became a unique event for Crimea’s international ties… [The Forum] set very high goals pertaining in the main to normalizing Russia’s relations in those areas where they became strained after the ‘Crimean spring,’ which happened, as is well-known, primarily due to a group of western countries, NATO and the EU. However, three and a half years since it became clear (and it is clear in the West, too) that he situation is unacceptable, that it is descending into a conflict, into a crisis,’ Mr. Muradov.
Mr. Muradov reminded his audience that the Forum was held in Livadia Palace. It was in that very palace that the leaders of three allied powers of the anti-Hitler coalition, the USSR, the US, and the UK, assembled in February 1945 at the Yalta (Crimea) Conference that laid the foundation of the post-war world order. “Today, we also need to address the topic of shaping the current world order that will ensure stability and peace to preserve the future of all the peoples on our planet,” Mr. Muradov said.
Mr. Muradov said that in future, the Friends of Crimea Forum would be held annually at the Yalta International Economic Forum. Mr. Muradov believes it will have a positive effect on the region’s foreign economic activities.
“The decision to hold special sessions of the 'Friends of Crimea' Association at the Yalta Forum is well-founded and has a specific goal to positively influence the development of Crimea’s ties with foreign partners,” the Deputy Prime Minister of Crimea noted.
The first working meeting of the “Friends of Crimea” International Association’s members will be held as a session of the 4th YIEF to be held on April 19–21, 2018.