World Bulletin/News Desk
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan agreed in a telephone conversation on Saturday that the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political unity of Ukraine needed to be protected at all costs.
They agreed that the risk of confrontation in Crimea needed to be eliminated and that a referendum planned for March 16 on Crimea joining Russia was "extremely dubious" and "illegal", according to a joint press statement issued by the German government on Sunday.
Merkel and Erdogan stressed the importance of fulfilling international obligations for overcoming the crisis and said efforts to form an "international contact group" and a committee to investigate violent incidents of recent weeks were important.
Erdogan said Turkey was prepared to help the international contact group given his country's close relationships with Ukraine and Russia, as well as its special relationship and contact with the Crimean Tatars.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin during a telephone conversation on Sunday a referendum planned for March 16 on Crimea joining Russia violated Ukraine's constitution and was against international law.
She also regretted that there had not been any progress on forming an "international contact group" which could find a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine, the German government said in a written statement. "She pointed out the urgency of finally coming to a substantial result on this."
On Thursday, Merkel said if no international contact group was formed in the coming days and no progress was made in negotiations with Russia, it was possible the European Union would impose on Russia further sanctions like travel restrictions and freezing financial accounts.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his Canadian counterpart John Baird also discussed the situation in Ukraine on Saturday.
According to diplomatic sources, Davutoglu and Baird shared concerns over the recent developments in Ukraine. The two ministers underlined the importance of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and warned that the presence of foreign forces and military in Crimea risked destabilizing the region.
Davutoglu and Baird concluded their discussion by emphasizing their countries’ concern for the protection of the rights of minority groups on the Crimean peninsula, including Crimean Tatars, and reaffirmed their commitment to peace and stability in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not participate in a G8 Summit scheduled for Sochi in June unless Russia and its allies in Crimea stop a referendum on the future of the Crimean peninsula, the German news weekly Der Spiegel has reported.
The move is the latest sign of Germany’s growing impatience with Russia’s policy towards Ukraine and it followed recent phone conversations Merkel had with her Western counterparts.
If the plans for a referendum on the future of the Crimean peninsula are not halted, Chancellor Merkel will have no choice but to cancel her participation, Der Spiegel quoted senior government officials as saying.
Concerns over the Autonomous Republic of Crimea's future remain high after the regional parliament voted on last week to hold a referendum on March 16 to decide whether Crimea should join Russia.
The planned referendum has been condemned as illegal by both the European Union and the United States.
The U.S. administration also announced last week that it will boycott the Sochi G8 summit unless Russia reverses its position on Ukraine.Last Mod: 09 Mart 2014, 17:47