Baltic states angered by Chinese diplomats remarks on sovereignty

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Former Soviet states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as France, have expressed dismay after China’s ambassador in Paris questioned the sovereignty of not only Ukraine, but also the aforementioned Baltic states.

Lu Shaye’s remarks in a TV interview late on Friday raise fresh questions about the faith the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has placed in China to act as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine.

Lu had been asked whether he considered the peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, part of Ukraine under international law.

“Even these ex-Soviet Union countries do not have effective status, as we say, under international law because there’s no international accord to concretise their status as a sovereign country,” Lu said.

Lu’s comments appeared to brush aside the sovereignty of countries, including ironically Russia, that formally recognised each other after the Soviet Union’s dissolution and are represented at the United Nations and in European security organisations.

Asked if Crimea was part of Ukraine, he said the answer depended on one’s position, and it was not so simple.

He added: “There is a history here where Crimea was originally part of Russia. It was Khrushchev who offered Crimea to Ukraine during the period of the Soviet Union”.

France officially reacted by saying it heard his remarks with dismay and demanded to know if they reflected China’s official position, “which we hope not to be the case.”

“We stress our full solidarity with all of our allies and partners concerned, who have gained their long-awaited independence after decades of oppression,” a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. “The annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 is illegal under international law.”

Ukraine was recognised “within borders including Crimea in 1991 by the entire international community, including China, at the fall of the USSR as a new member state of the United Nations”, Paris said.

The French president’s diplomatic adviser, Emmanuel Bonne, has been deputed to hold talks with China to explore a possible peace initiative, a move that has alienated many in Europe.

The Latvian foreign minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, said the Chinese ambassador’s comments were “completely unacceptable”.

“We expect [an] explanation from the Chinese side and complete retraction of this statement,” he said, adding there would be “a strong and unified response” from the EU at a meeting of European foreign affairs ministers in Brussels on Monday.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024