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NATO PA President Connolly Addresses First Parliamentary Summit of the Crimea Platform

Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), the President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, joined U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and over 30 Speakers of Parliament who convened in Zagreb at the invitation of Croatian Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic and Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Ruslan Stefanchuk, for the first parliamentary summit of the International Crimea Platform. In his address to the summit, President Connolly urged assembled parliamentary leaders to rise up to the threat which Russia’s war poses to shared democratic values and ways of life by standing firmly with Ukraine.

In the United States Congress, Congressman Connolly is the author of the Crimea Annexation Non-Recognition Act and the Ukrainian Territorial Integrity Act, which prohibit the US government from taking any steps which could imply recognition of Russia’s illegal and forcible annexation of Crimea or of any part of Ukraine’s territory.

The International Crimea Platform, formally established in August 2021, aims to mobilize international attention on Russia’s ongoing occupation of Crimea. The Assembly was one of the first organizations to support this initiative by setting up a Crimea Platform support group. The Assembly has continuously intensified its cooperation with the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine since 2014 and broke off relations with the Russian parliament just two weeks after Russia’s illegal and forcible annexation of Crimea.

Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the Assembly redoubled its support for Ukraine by condemning the war, supporting crippling economic sanctions against Russia, fighting for the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression and working with Ukrainian parliamentarians to secure a constant flow of military equipment and humanitarian assistance. The Assembly also established a special fund to strengthen the Verkhovna Rada and help with its engagement of other parliaments within NATO.

The First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform is expected to conclude with the adoption of a Joint Statement in which participants reaffirm their commitment to the non-recognition of Russia’s illegal and illegitimate territorial claims and recommit to supporting Ukraine to resist Russia’s aggression.

Video of Connolly's remarks is available here. A full transcript is below:

President Connolly:

Colleagues, friends,

It’s eight months that we are now into a war that Vladimir Putin bathed in blood.

Not in eighty years has this continent seen the level of depravity and brutality inflicted upon towns and villages and cities of innocent people who are in the view of the delusional pan-Russian leader in the Kremlin, guilty of one sin: they seek to be a free people. That cannot be a sin, anywhere.

Some timid souls would have you believe that: “yes the bloodshed and the violence is unsavory. But we’re going to have to come to terms with Vladimir Putin”. Tell that to the dead in Bucha. Tell that to the sheltered victims in Mariupol. Tell that to those who’ve lost their lives in Zaporizhzhia.

Every generation is forced to deal with moments of truth. Not all generations have succeeded in meeting that moment of truth. We have ample examples here in Europe of those failures in the past. But this generation cannot fail to meet its moment in history. The stakes are much greater than the geography of a particular place. The stakes are truly about the future of liberal democratic values, ways of life that infuse the human spirit with freedom, versus the alternative, the absolute suppression of those freedoms.

Which way of life do we wish to choose?

We must stand with Ukraine in promoting those democratic values, in asserting the right to those freedoms, in asserting self determination.

When we all face our grandchildren in the next generation and they ask “where were you on the issue of Crimea, where were you when Russia decided on its cataclysmic and reckless, brutal campaign to suppress freedom in Europe and indeed around the world”, let us make sure all of us can say to our grand children: “I stood with Ukraine.”

Thank you.

Slava Ukraini


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