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    EU Refusal to Give Crimeans Visas Not Only Concern Linked to Human Rights - OSCE

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    Lamberto Zannier, outgoing secretary general of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe when answering a Sputnik question on whether European member states of the organizations were violating human rights obligations of Crimean residents when refusing to issue visas, said it was not the only concern of OSCE related to human rights.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — According to Zannier, the problem is that the international community does not always recognize "the change of the facts on the ground."

    "Yes, unfortunately, this is not the only case where we have concerns of this nature, the Crimea issue remains the dividing issue within the Organization because the way it happened was not the way it was recognized by the Organization," Zannier said when asked whether he had such concerns.

    "The ones who suffer from this are the people because they get caught into the environment, where one country sees things one way, others see it other way and they cannot recognize these facts on the ground. The result of the lack of recognition is a lack of ability to regulate this situation and then you have property issues, the issues of freedom of movement and the human rights of the people, who caught in between, are in fact diminished," the official stressed.

    Crimea seceded from Ukraine and reunified with Russia after more than 96 percent of its residents supported such a move through a referendum in March 2014. The referendum was held after new authorities took power in Kiev after what many considered to be a coup.

    OSCE representatives were invited to monitor the Crimean referendum, however, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office for 2014 Didier Burkhalter said that the initiative to hold the referendum in the proposed form was illegal.

    The European Union, as well as Ukraine and several other countries, did not recognize the move and regard the peninsula as an occupied territory. As a result, several rounds have been imposed by the West against Russia and Crimea. Russian authorities have repeatedly said that the Crimean population decided to rejoin Russia in a democratic procedure.

    On June 19, the Council of the European Union made a decision to extend the sanctions against Crimea in a number of spheres, such as imports of products, investment, tourism services, transport, telecommunications among others, until June 23, 2018.

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    OSCE, Lamberto Zannier, Crimea
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