During the course of the YIEF 2017 plenary session the moderator Georgy Muradov, the Russian Presidential Envoy to the Republic of Crimea, read out a message of greetings from the former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to the Forum participants. The message reads in part: “The Crimea continues to score achievements in spite of the stubborn continuation of the policy of unreasonable economic sanctions introduced by the USA and other Western countries. This policy blatantly ignores and distorts historical facts and realities, not to speak of the fact that it contradicts universally recognised democratic principles… I hope that all the obstacles that impede the development of the peninsula will be removed as quickly as possible.” Mr Hhatoyama also confirmed his intention to visit Crimea again soon.
Sergio Divina, an Italian senator representing the Northern League party, said: “I am saddened to see the difficulties faced by the people of Crimea. These problems must be dealt with. The people of Crimea have every right to self-determination and I am glad that they had the courage to take such a step.”
In the opinion of the Italian senator, sanctions will harm Europe’s own interests. “It hits our pockets,” said Mr Divina noting that the Veneto Region which he represents was hit the hardest by these decisions and that he hoped that the Italian government would revise its position vis-a-vis Russia.
Jean Pierre Thomas, French financier and investor, congratulated the organisers of the Forum noting the professional preparation of the event, the interesting agenda and the cordial welcome. The speaker said that Russia and Crimea was a key strategic position for world investors. “Europe cannot be considered to be Europe without Russia. We belong to the same continent,” he said. There was a time when creating a free zone between Europe and Russia was discussed, Mr Thomas continued. But the idea never took off the ground and instead there are now anti-Russian sanctions which lose Europe up to 60 billion euros. “This is a futile game. There is no alternative to cooperation,” the French expert said. He called on the Europeans to do more to study the investment potential of Crimea and Russia in such spheres as tourism, agriculture, transport and waste disposal.
The head of the French investment company proposed creating an International Association of the Friends of Crimea in order to “open up Crimea and make the peninsula a most interesting place for tourists and business people.”
The plenary session moderator Georgy Muradov backed the French businessman’s initiative and suggested that the association hold its constitutional forum as early as October this year.
European Member of Parliament Laurențiu Rebega spoke about the vector of constructive cooperation with Russia. The Romanian representative to the European Parliament said: “We are gathered here to look for new forms of cooperation and not for the sake of confrontation. We need to work out solutions that would suit everyone.”
He is sure that Romania and Crimea have heady prospects for cooperation in such areas as agriculture, tourism, industry, high technologies and research. “The Black Sea can and must be a region of friendship and partnership,” Mr Rebega concluded.
Andros Kyprianou, General Secretary of the Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus said that Cyprus was one of the main investors in Russia. The amount of investments that reached Russia via Cyprus today is about 100 billion euros. Cyprus, like many European countries, has suffered from the introduction of sanctions against Russia and the Cyprus Progressive Party of the Working People will do everything to have these sanctions lifted. He also noted that “we constantly see international law violations on the part of the USA, but no punishment follows.”
Bartolomeo Amidei, Senator from the Forza Italia party said: “The barriers between our countries must be removed.” He believes that Europe cannot develop and move forward without Russia. The Senator said: “History teaches us that sanctions always have a negative impact on markets and economic cooperation. This negative effect is particularly noticeable if sanctions are applied against a culturally and historically close region and there is a lot that links Russia and Italy.” Mr Amidei noted that EU businessmen might come to Crimea even earlier than we expect. To this end conditions for comfortable work of foreign investors must be created in Crimea.
Hans-Jörg Jenewein, Deputy of the Upper House of the Austrian Parliament, is sure that it would be impossible to drive a wedge between our countries. “In my opinion, one of the strengths of the Russian economy is tourism, which I see as a key development opportunity,” he said.
The foreign guests at the Yalta Forum who participated at the plenary session have called for an early lifting of economic sanctions.