Thursday

15th Nov 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.

... or 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?

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Opinion

Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?

Few people commented on one key point in Macron's statement: he did not justify the idea of a European army by the need to intervene in Africa, which would have been France's traditional approach. Instead, he invoked the Russian threat,

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us