Monday

18th Jun 2018

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

"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?

Analysis

Trump befriends Conte, depresses EU

Most EU leaders found US president Donald Trump "depressing" at the G7, but one of them - Italy's Giuseppe Conte - made a new friend.

Opinion

Europe could lose out in North Korean bonanza

South Korean businesses including Hyundai and Samsung are already scoping investment opportunities. Will North Korea become a 'new Vietnam' opportunity - or more like Myanmar, where slow Brussels policy-making meant EU exporters lost out.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Audi CEO arrested over Dieselgate
  2. EU-Australia trade talks kick off in Brussels next month
  3. France and Germany moving closer to eurozone reform
  4. Merkel to meet Conte to find migration compromise
  5. Seehofer gives Merkel time to strike EU migration deal
  6. Schroeder and Sarkozy appear with Putin at World Cup
  7. Tennis champ and 'EU diplomat' claims immunity
  8. Italy threatens to ditch EU-Canada free trade deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  2. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. Orban to EPP: turn 'Christian democratic' or face challenge
  2. Is EU retail sector equipped for 21st century?
  3. Tear gas bodes ill for Macedonia name deal
  4. EU asylum claims drop, Germany registers most
  5. EU summit: migrants get a 'vote' too
  6. Basque threat of 'second front' for independence
  7. Progressive regulation needed now for 21st century finance
  8. Greece and Merkel's fate top This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us