On Lithuania's initiative, the foreign ministers of eight countries on Thursday met with Mustafa Dzhemilev, leader of Crimean Tatars, and Andrey Yurov, head of the Ukrainian-Russian human rights mission in Crimea, in Switzerland.
Mustafa Dzhemilev
© Reuters/Scanpix

Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius says Lithuania initiated the meeting in Basel "to express solidarity with Crimean Tatars, draw the international community's attention to human rights violations and the unlawful annexation of Crimea," the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Thursday.

The meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of Lithuania, Denmark, Canada, Turkey, Ukraine, the British minister of state for Europe and representatives of the United States and Sweden. They all came to Basel to attend a meeting of OSCE ministers.

According to the statement, the diplomats were informed "about the ongoing intimidation and persecution of ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in Crimea, restrictions on the freedoms of expression, assembly, exercise of religion and thought, violations of people's property rights, searches at the homes of Crimean Tatars, restrictions on the movement between Crimea and mainland Ukraine, restrictions on the right to receive education in their native Ukrainian language."

"We must constantly raise the issue of unlawful annexation of Crimea and its consequences during meetings of OSCE and other international organizations and call on Russia to ensure free and safe access for OSCE missions and missions of other international organizations to Crimea to investigate cases of human rights violations," Linkevičius was quoted as saying in the statement.

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