Crimea: On Path to Prosperity
The recent reunification of the Republic of Crimea with the Russian Federation was the consequence of the coup d'état in Ukraine in 2014. To cease violence and surrender of weapons by the opposition under the mediation of the European Union and the Russian Federation on February 21, 2014 the Agreement on settlement of political crisis in Ukraine was signed. France, Germany and Poland guaranteed its implementation. Unfortunately, the opposition sponsored by the United States with the complicity of the EU countries including the guarantors of the abovementioned Agreement ousted the legitimate president and seized the power.
When anti-Russian forces came to power in Kiev in March 2014 and ignited political turbulence and ideologically motivated violence resulted in many dozens of innocent people being killed, a free referendum was held on the peninsula and in its capital Sevastopol. More than 96% of their population, who reasonably worried about their life and fate, voted in favour of reunification of Crimea with its historic motherland – the Russian Federation in accordance with “The Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States” adopted by the UN General Assembly on October 24, 1970.
However, before reminding the history of the peninsula it is good to say that Crimea’s population equals to 2,4 mln like in Botswana. The people of Crimea as well as Batswana face similar challenges such as dry climate, energy and water shortage. Moreover, both seek to solve these problems through the technology, industry and tourism development. That is why, it is not an abstract history of a remote unknown area, it is a history of people who seek to improve their lives as Botswana ones and the government which tries to do its best to help them as Botswana one.
Despite the challenging legacy of the "Ukrainian period", including poor state of the majority of the key assets, as well as the accruing sanctions pressure, Crimea's social and economic situation has been improving. Though the peninsula is currently "aligning" its social and economic indicators with the Russian average, its growth rates are among the highest in the country. Positive dynamics is observed in almost all main economy sectors of Crimea.
The Federal Special Purpose Program "The Social and Economic Development of the Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol until 2022" with a budget of more $15,5, billion has been implemented since 2015. It is designed to upgrade the living standards of the population and the rate of economic development of Crimea to the all-Russia level, as well as to establish conditions conducive to sustainable economic growth in the peninsula.
The problem of power supplies caused by energy blockade of Crimea by Ukraine in November 2015 has been successfully resolved. To ensure the source of stable generating capacities surplus two high-capacity thermal power plants with the total capacity of 940 megawatt have been constructed. Elaboration of plans on further development of green energy in Crimea is underway, with a primary focus on solar and wind energy as the peninsula has considerable natural potential for exploiting these energy sources.
The opening of the 19 km long Crimean Bridge connecting the peninsula with continental part of Russia for road traffic in May 2018 has significantly benefited the dynamics of Crimea's socio-economic development. After December 2019, a regular railway communication at the Bridge will be put into operation. Additional impetus to the region's development is expected to be given by the construction of the four-lane federal highway "Tavrida" stretching across the entire peninsula from east to west. Moreover, from 2015 to this date, more than 600 kilometers of roads were repaired, and 700 more kilometers of roads will be upgraded by 2021.
After the North Crimean Canal was shut off by Kiev, the issue of safe and secure water supply has been the only problem not yet completely resolved. 100 kilometers of new water pipelines have been built, multi-pipe water conduits are to be completed by 2020 to replenish the North Crimean Canal and overcome the after-effects of its shut-off.
The continuous growth of the tourist flow to Crimea over the recent years accelerated tangibly to reach 6.5 million people in 2018. The commissioning of Simferopol International Airport capable of receiving up to 7 million people annually in 2018 significantly facilitated the increase of those willing to visit the peninsula.
For the last five year the industrial production in Crimea has continued its upward trend, many enterprises have undergone modernization. The share of industry in Crimea’s GDP has doubled since 2014. There is a free economic zone in the territory of Crimea. Within its development framework, over 250 investment agreements were signed. Major investment areas include agriculture (60 projects), construction (39), industry (32), resorts, tourism (26) and transport (10).
The structural integration of the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation has been finalized. President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said that Crimea and Sevastopol are an inalienable part of the Russian Federation and the question of the peninsula has been settled once and forever.
The politically motivated nature of the information campaign launched against our country concerning the alleged human rights problems as well as the "militarization" of Crimea at the UN General Assembly is obvious. The annual anti-Russia’s resolutions initiated by Kiev with the US and the EU patronage is illustrative as the majority of the countries, including the African ones, either abstained from voting or did not participate in it.
This indicates that the majority of members of the international community do not accept the distorted interpretation of the state of affairs in and around Crimea and that support for the Ukrainian politicized initiative, despite the pressure of Kiev and its western sponsors, has markedly decreased.
Regardless of systematic malicious speculations, Crimea enjoys an atmosphere of inter-ethnic accord characterized by consideration for all ethnic minorities. The government guarantees the unconditional observance of international obligations in the field of human rights. The multi-ethnic population of Crimea fully exercises its rights to freedom of speech, assembly and mother-tongue medium education, with the Crimean Tatar and the Ukrainian languages having official status. The Crimean Tatars are represented in all government bodies of the peninsula, such as security and law enforcement agencies in proportion to their share in Crimea's population.
Concerning the alleged “militarization” before 2014 under a Russian-Ukrainian agreement on the stationing of the Black Sea Fleet, Russia alone had the right to deploy up to 25,000 troops on the peninsula, although the actual number was much lower (about 12,000). As for the Sea of Azov, Russia has no naval bases whatsoever in this area. Any forces there are used to guard the Crimean Bridge and ensure safety of shipping. Measures taken by Russia (selective inspections aboard ships, including Russian ships) are commensurate with the extremist threats to the Crimean Bridge and Russia as a whole. It is Ukraine that is actively building up a military presence along the coastline in the vicinity of Berdyansk and which systematically closes certain parts of the adjoining water area for gunnery practice, that are aimed at militarising the Sea of Azov.
Every year Russia holds Yalta International Economic Forum (YIEF) so that all parties concerned could visit Crimea, see everything with their own eyes and get information from the first hand. The next VI. YIEF will take place on April 23-25, 2020. The Russian side is pleased to facilitate participation of the foreign as well as Botswana’s distinguished officials, businessmen, and journalists at the Forum next year.
By H.E. Victor Sibilev,
Ambassador of the Russian Federation
to the Republic of Botswana