Phnom Penh (FN), Mar. 18 – Seven years ago against the backdrop of coup, outburst of jingoism and violence embracing Ukraine, people of Crimea made their historic choice, fulfilling the basis of universal suffrage by voting with the absolute majority of the population of the Peninsular (96.77 percent with a turnout of 83 percent) for reunification with Russia. Following their will, on 18 March 2014 the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on the Accession of the Republic of Crimea in the Russian Federation and on Forming New Constituent Entities within the Russian Federation was signed.

The referendum was held according to the law and UN principle of self-determination of people, and became an ultimate triumph of democracy. As many as 135 international observers from 23 countries, and 1240 representatives of local organizations were presented during the vote and praised the preparations for and the implementation of the Crimean referendum.

The results of the Presidential elections held on 18 March 2018 (participated by 71.43% of voters), as well as local elections to the State Council of the Republic of Crimea and the Sevastopol Legislative Assembly reaffirmed the previous choice by the population of the Peninsular.

Seven years on, both regions are fully integrated into our political, legal and economic space, with the multiethnic composition represented both at the local and national levels and the rights of the citizens fully respected.

Still, some nations failed to recognize the will of the Crimean people, with sanctions regime imposed against Russia, and particularly the region in concern, compounding the normal life of its inhabitants. While in power that be in Kiev stubbornly proceed with illegitimate efforts to reclaim that territory, throwing fictional accusations of human rights violations and militarization, they demonstrate complete disregard to the demands of the population of Crimea ceasing water and electricity supply to the peninsular, stopping air, sea, railway connections and thus implementing its actual blockade, as well as continue to wage war against their own citizens on their own land.

Particular attention of the West is often drawn to the situation around Crimean Tatars – one of the native ethnicities living on the Peninsular. It is flattering to see such a feigned concern today, while regular accusations voiced by Crimean Tatar activists against Kiev of discriminatory, oppressive and jingoist policies of 1990-s and 2000-s were mostly ignored.

On the contrary, nowadays an increase of Crimean Tatars representation among the members of legislative bodies (from 100 to 250 persons), their developing ethnic and cultural autonomy, state status of the Crimean Tatar language together with Russian and Ukrainian, as well as opportunities of its study at school are sights of enhancing interethnic relations. In 2018 Crimean Tatar Assembly (Kurultai) took the decision to establish the Council (Shura) of the Crimean Tatar community, and 2019 saw the creation of Crimean Governor’s Council on Interethnic and Inter-religions Affairs. In this regard and amid the discriminatory language policies in Ukraine, the situation improved dramatically in comparison to the period before 2014.

In this context, the Russian Federation successfully overcame difficulties caused by Western sanctions regime, established the Free Economic Zone in 2015, ensured the 14-kilometer long Crimean Bridge construction in 2018, connecting the continental Russia with the peninsular constructed in record time and contributing to the positive dynamics of its economic development.

The Federal Special Purpose Programme “The Social and Economic Development of the Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol until 2024” is carried on, aiming at upgrading the living standards and rate of economic development of Crimea to national indicators, development of energy complex, tourism capacity, improvement of water supply and transport infrastructure, healthcare, ecology, shipbuilding, science and culture.

The public surveys demonstrate positive attitude to current inter-ethnic relations Seven years of the reunited life prove that the decision taken by the Crimean people was right, as well as their sincere intentions to live and build the prosperous life in Russia.

H.E. Mr. Anatoly Borovik, Ambassador of Russia to Cambodia.