Questioning the viability of long-term political and economic goals Russia has set for itself in Crimea, Ukraine’s new foreign minister says that Moscow has no chance of implementing them on the annexed peninsula.
In an interview with Austria’s daily Die Presse, Pavlo Klimkin said the two countries will have to find common ground on the issue.
“Russia has no viable prospects in Crimea. Fairly soon, we will initiate negotiations, including with Russia, to find a modus vivendi [a realistic way forward] on Crimea,” said Klimkin.
He did not elaborate on when these talks would take place and who the other parties would be, but Klimkin said that just the drop in tourism, widely seen as the peninsula’s lifeblood, presents a dead–end street for Russia.
“Seventy percent of people living in Crimea depend on the tourism industry. And 70 percent of all tourists who visited Crimea, came from [mainland] Ukraine," he said. "Today, the beaches are empty…”
Klimkin, Ukraine’s former ambassador to Germany who was appointed to his new post just a week ago, said that it would be equally difficult for Russia to attract foreign investment.
“Who would currently invest in Crimea? An investor from Austria? No way,” said Klimkin, adding that, even if investments came, Ukraine would immediately seek to legally block them, including Russian investments.
Taking issue with the referendum which Moscow used to justify Crimea's annexation in March, Klimkin called the vote a “farce” with its numbers grossly exaggerated.
“It’s obviously nonsense that 96 percent [of people] voted in favor of annexation. The referendum was a farce,” he said, adding that according to “serious polls” that had been conducted, about 41 percent of voters would have supported annexation.
Asked whether he thought it was a mistake for Ukraine to have surrendered Crimea without firing a single shot, Klimkin acknowledged that measures certainly could have been taken in response but at a great human cost.
As for Crimea’s prospects, Klimkin is optimistic, saying that he has no doubt that it will be part of Ukraine again.
“Crimea has been and will remain Ukrainian. And we already have a vision for Crimea’s future,” he said.