41st Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 74th Session

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09-Dec-2019 02:31:06
General Assembly adopts resolution urging Russian Federation to withdraw its armed forces from Crimea, expressing grave concern about growing military presence, at 41st plenary.

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Text on Sport for Peace, Development Also Adopted

The General Assembly today adopted a resolution urging the Russian Federation to withdraw its military forces from Crimea and end its temporary occupation of Ukraine’s territory without delay, as it also adopted a text on sport for development and peace.

Through the text titled “Problem of the militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, as well as parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov” — adopted by a recorded vote of 63 in favour to 19 against with 66 abstentions — the Assembly, expressing grave concern about the Russian Federation’s militarization and reports of its continuing destabilization of Crimea through the transfer of weapons to Ukraine, urged it to stop such activity.

Further calling on the Russian Federation to refrain from efforts to extend its jurisdiction over nuclear facilities and material in Crimea, the Assembly condemning the growing Russian military presence in parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, the harassment of commercial vessels and the construction and opening of the Kerch Strait bridge.

Ukraine’s representative said that since 2014 the Russian Federation has been progressively militarizing the Crimean Peninsula by transferring to Ukraine nuclear capable aircraft and missiles, weapons, ammunition and military personnel. “What is more alarming is that the occupying power is taking steps to nuclearize Crimea, in particular by deploying nuclear infrastructure on the peninsula,” he said, pointing out that the Russian Federation’s activities have far‑reaching consequences for security beyond the Black Sea area to South Europe and even in North Africa and the Middle East. This seriously challenges the existing non‑proliferation regime and the international community must duly respond.

The Russian Federation’s delegate called the text a “bare‑faced lie” meant to impair the constructive course of the Normandy Quartet meeting taking place in Paris today. The ongoing internal conflict in Ukraine has killed, wounded and badly injured thousands of people, and turned millions more into refugees and internally displaced persons. “People of Crimea have long made their choice: exposed to a threat of a ‘blood‑drenched massacre’ that was coming from nationalists who came to power in 2014, they decided to reunify with Russia,” he said, adding, “There is no problem of ‘militarization of Crimea’”.

The speaker for the European Union, however, said that the increasing militarization of the peninsula continues to negatively impact security in the Black Sea region. The Russian Federation’s violations of international law have led to a dangerous escalation of tensions at the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, he said, also condemning Moscow for imposing Russian citizenship on Crimean residents and conscripting them into the Russian armed forces.

In a second text titled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal,” the Assembly urged Member States to observe the Olympic Truce, from the start of the Games of the Olympiad until the end of the Paralympic Games to be held in Tokyo in 2020, to ensure the safe passage and participation of athletes and all other accredited persons taking part in the Games.

The Assembly also called upon all Member States to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee in their efforts to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation, welcoming cooperation to maximize the potential of sport to make a meaningful contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mori Yoshiro, President of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, said he still has hope for a world without conflict. Peace was the original concept of the Olympics,” he said, recalling the Tokyo Olympics of 1964 as a major step toward recovery “from a burnt down land in just 19 years”. The Tokyo 2020 Games, whose main theme is “Unity and Diversity”, is a welcome event that can bring about remarkable benefits.

Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, said that for the first time in Olympic history, gender‑balance would be achieved with the highest‑ever number of female athletes, or 49 per cent, participating in the Tokyo event. The 2020 Games aim to be carbon‑neutral, thus supporting sustainable development objectives by conferring Olympic medals made from recycled electronics and using zero‑emission vehicles.

Member States emphasized the importance of investing in sport, pointed out that it helps eliminate gender stereotypes, teaches valuable skills, and promotes peace. Monaco’s delegate said that sport helps promote respect and mutual understanding and provides platforms for exchange among people who may not meet in other ways. Kenya’s representative noted that with at least 1.2 million people facing physical challenges, his country’s Government is promoting Special Olympics programmes to help develop psychomotor, cognitive and social skills. He also echoed the sentiment of several Member States in underscoring that sport is essential to combating violent extremism and terrorism.

Also speaking today were the representatives of the United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Qatar, Singapore, Greece, China, Cuba, Cyprus, Cambodia, Israel, Iran, Syria, Belarus and Indonesia.

The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 10 December, to hold a joint debate and take action on draft resolutions on oceans and law of the sea.

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