Swoboda on Crimea crisis: "Dialogue with Russia must be maintained at all costs"

Crimea crisis: Dialogue with Russia

Tensions are rising in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, with increasing provocations and Russian troops on the ground.

Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, said:

"To give in to Russia's obvious provocations in Crimea would be the worst choice right now for Ukraine and the international community. We need restraint and political dialogue. Europe's eastern neighbourhood is also Russia's western neighbourhood. To safeguard the independence and sovereignty of countries in the region, all political players must engage in dialogue, not sabre-rattling.

"Cold-war-style threats against Russia will never work. Mr Putin has made it clear often enough that his decisions are immune to diplomatic and economic pressure. Russia is a world power and isolation will not work.

"Instead, we need to use all means possible to include Russia in genuine political dialogue. Russia must respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine – in line with its commitment to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum – but more threats against Russia will not speed this up.

"In return, Ukraine and its new leadership must reinstate legislation recognising and protecting minority languages and the rights of Russian-speakers in Ukraine. The Euromaidan protests offer the chance for a new Ukraine – one that must be built on unity, not further ethnic and linguistic division.

"Peace between the countries and people of Europe must be preserved. Dialogue with all nations is the only way to secure this peace."