Ukraine is looking for new tools to return Crimea and protect the inhabitants of the annexed Peninsula, and a package of laws will be needed to reintegrate Donbas after de-occupation. This was stated by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday, 20 October, during a speech in the Verkhovna Rada with an annual message.

“We need a strategy for the development of Donetsk and Luhansk regions; work on it has already begun,” Zelensky said.

He noted that reintegration measures would also include amnesty, but urged not to be afraid of the process, although there is much space for manipulation.

“Amnesty is a terrible word, not about everyone and not about avoiding responsibility, but about millions of our citizens who have no blood on their hands and who are now actually being held by the occupier,” the President stressed, adding that they need a clear signal. It is not worth being afraid, the worthy future is only with Ukraine.

In addition, Zelensky believes that those people who surrendered Crimea without a fight in 2014 should be brought to justice for this. Here “the question is not revenge, the question is justice.”

Now, Crimea remains occupied, and Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars are regularly persecuted there. That is why, according to the President, the world should not forget about the annexation of the Peninsula.

“Peace in Donbas and de-occupation of Crimea are my priorities. Unfortunately, the issue of Crimea has never been on the agenda of the ‘Normandy format,’ but it has always been and will always be on our agenda. You can post funny memes about the security guarantees of the Budapest Memorandum as much as you want, but it will not return our territories. We are looking for new effective tools for this. The issue of Crimea has been returned to the international agenda,” Zelensky stressed.

He also noted that Ukraine is creating a “Crimean Platform” format, which is a coordination of international efforts to protect the rights of Crimeans and de-occupy the Peninsula.

“I have already discussed this initiative in detail with representatives of the European Union, Great Britain, Canada, Turkey, and other partners. Many of them are ready to join and take an active part in it,” the Ukrainian Head of State added.

At the same time, he noted that our country continues to strengthen its defence capabilities and implement NATO standards. According to the President, the Ukrainian army is being built and it will be able to defend Ukraine “on land, in water, in the air, and in cyberspace.”

Bohdan Marusyak

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