News story | Date: 21/03/2015 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
‘A year ago today, President Putin tried to legitimise the annexation of Crimea and change the Ukrainian and Russian borders with the stroke of a pen. This was the first time since the Second World War that an attempt has been made to move borders in this manner,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
‘Norway has condemned Russia’s annexation of Crimea. We will not accept it. Crimea is part of Ukraine,’ Mr Brende said. Norway supports Ukraine’s legitimate Government regaining control over the country’s entire territory within its internationally recognised borders.
More than a year after the unrest in Ukraine began, Foreign Minister Brende is still deeply concerned about the situation. More than one and a half million people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict. Although a ceasefire entered into by the parties on 12 February has reduced the intensity of the hostilities, there is still fighting on some fronts. It is crucial that the parties to the conflict now fulfil the obligations they undertook in Minsk and actively contribute to progress in the negotiations.
On 17 March, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law on special status for conflict-affected areas in Donbass as part of the follow-up of the Minsk package of measures.
‘I welcome this decision by the Ukrainian parliament. It shows that Ukraine takes its commitments seriously and is trying to implement the measures agreed on in Minsk,’ said Mr Brende.
Russia and the pro-Russian separatists have criticised the Ukrainian decision, which they claim adds new conditions to the Minsk implementation package.
‘I dismiss the criticism of this decision. The Ukrainian parliament requires that local elections are held before any transfer of power can take place. This is fully in line with the Minsk package, which makes it clear that local elections are to be held, in accordance with Ukrainian law. The pro-Russian separatists should now follow this up by entering into dialogue with the authorities in Kyiv about arrangements for carrying out elections, as required by the Minsk package,’ Foreign Minister Brende said.