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Ukraine's Crimean parliament speaker opposes US embassy office in Simferopol

Simferopol, 3 February: The Crimean parliament, at its first plenary session on 18 February, will debate and adopt an appeal to the Ukrainian president, the Ukrainian parliament speaker and the Ukrainian prime minister to reject the request by the United States embassy in Ukraine to open an office in Simferopol following the signing of the US-Ukraine charter on strategic partnership in Washington on 19 December 2008. Crimean parliament speaker Anatoliy Hrytsenko said this during an interview on Tuesday (3 February) in Simferopol.

According to Hrytsenko, Crimean first deputy speaker Serhiy Tsekov has initiated the appeal which was included in the draft agenda of the plenary session by the Crimean parliament's presidium at its meeting on 3 February.

Answering journalists' questions, Hrytsenko said that the refusal to (allow) the opening of the US representative office in Simferopol could not serve as an example of double standards, because the consulate-general of Russia and consulates of several other countries have been already operating in Crimea. "It is not written anywhere that the USA are going to open consulates or general consulates in Simferopol or anywhere in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea," Hrytsenko said.

Hrytsenko emphasized that, even as the charter on strategic partnership was signed between Ukraine and the USA, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko had said that the USA was planning to open a presence post or an embassy office in Simferopol. And that was quite a different thing from the consulate or a general consulate, the Crimean speaker said, adding: "There could be and there would be no double standards".

"It is mandatory for all the embassies operating in Ukraine, before they open consulates in Crimea and Simferopol, to hold consultations with the government bodies, with the leadership of the Crimean Supreme Council (parliament), with the Council of Minister (cabinet) of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the decision is adopted only after this. And an ambassador of any country which tries to open the consulate or to appoint consuls should always submit candidates for approval. Nothing of this kind has happened in the current case," Anatoliy Hrytsenko said.

As a result, the Crimean speaker said, he believes that the Ukrainian foreign minister "has issued a hurried statement, failing to discuss the situation with the leadership of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, in violation of the Crimean constitution, which clearly states that the Autonomous Republic of Crimea takes part in foreign and domestic political life of Ukraine regarding the Autonomous Republic of Crimea."

Therefore, Hrytsenko said, he was convinced that, before making these decisions and signing these documents, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry should have discussed the issue with the leaders of the autonomous republic.

According to the Crimean speaker, even US ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, during the meeting with Hrytsenko, expressed his astonishment over the fact that not a single official of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry had discussed the possibility of opening the representative office in Crimea by the US embassy in Ukraine with the republic's leaders.

"That is why there should be and there will be no double standards. We do not have the right to ban any country from opening a consulate in any region of Ukraine, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, if it is opened in line with international treaties, signed between Ukraine and any country which it has diplomatic relations with, including the USA. But this should be done in a correct, civilized way and in line with the Constitution of Crimea and the Ukrainian legislation," Hrytsenko said.