Sunday

25th Jun 2017

Merkel: Comparing Crimea to Kosovo is 'shameful'

  • Merkel says economic sanctions will hurt Russia most (Photo: Bundesregierung)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday (13 March) told the Bundestag it is "shameful" to compare the independence of Kosovo with the referendum for independence in Crimea and called on Russia to stop its actions in Ukraine or face economic sanctions.

"In Kosovo we had years in which the international community had no power to intervene while Slobodan Milosevic carried out his ethnic cleansing. Nato then decided to act alone because Russia continuously blocked any UN mandate on Serbia. That situation is in no way similar to what is happening today in Ukraine," she said.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"In my opinion it is shameful to compare Crimea to Kosovo. And even if there had been other breaches of international law - Kosovo not being one of them - Russia's actions in Ukraine are still a breach of international law," she added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month justified a decision to send troops to Crimea by comparing it to the international intervention in Kosovo in the late 1990s.

He said he wanted to protect ethnic Russians, who make up the majority of the population on the Crimean peninsula.

But to Merkel "this conflict is about spheres of influence and territorial claims" and a repeat of Russian actions during the 2008 Georgian war, which ended with two Georgian regions under Russian occupation.

Merkel noted that the independence referendum called by Crimean authorities, and advanced from 25 May to 16 March, is in violation of Ukraine's constitution because it was not approved at national level.

"In a phase of big insecurity in Ukraine, Russia is not acting like a stability partner, but uses its neighbour's weakness to advance its own interests. It is the power of the mightiest put above the power of law. What we are witnessing now is oppressive and I fear we need to be prepared for the long haul in solving this conflict," she said.

Unlike the US, whose army chiefs have prepared for military action and whose diplomats say "all options are on the table" against Russia, Merkel insists that there is "no military option" to solve this conflict.

She spoke of a three step approach against Russia. The first - freezing EU-Russia talks on visa freedom and trade - has already been taken.

A travel ban on Putin allies is the second step. This could be triggered on Monday at a foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels. The third step - economic sanctions - may be then agreed by EU leaders when they meet at a summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

"Nobody wants these measures, that is clear. But we would be willing and determined to go this road if it is unavoidable. This has been agreed among all 28 EU states and in close coordination with Nato and G7 partners."

"If Russia stays the course, it would not be just a catastrophe for Ukraine, not just a threat for us as its neighbours, but it would massively hurt Russia, economically and politically," Merkel warned.

The sanctions move is unpopular in Germany. A recent poll showed only 24 percent in favour of economic sanctions while 69 percent believe it would not help solve the Crimea crisis.

Ukraine PM, EU leaders taking soft line on Crimea

Ukraine’s interim leader has urged the UK and US to protect its territorial integrity, but indicated the Ukrainian army will not act unless Russian forces move beyond Crimea.

Doing business with Russia: A German dilemma

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is determined to impose economic sanctions on Russia over Ukraine if diplomacy fails. German firms doing business in Russia are warning about the consequences.

Opinion

Why does Putin want Crimea anyway?

Why is a world leader prepared to risk opprobrium and, possibly, crippling economic sanctions for an obscure piece of land?

EU extends sanctions on Russia

German chancellor Angela Merkel said that Russia hadn't done enough to implement the so-called Minsk peace process, a condition for lifting the sanctions.

Interview

EU visa waiver unlikely to import Ukraine crime

Visa-free travel, which began last week, unlikely to prompt a Ukrainian crime wave, an EU police expert has said, but Ukraine itself is seeing increases in lawlessness.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit