MFA Statement on decision to decline permission to hold exhibition, dedicated to the anniversary of occupation of Crimea
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania expresses its disappointment that the representations of Lithuania and Ukraine to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) were not allowed to organise a photo exhibition, dedicated to the anniversary of the illegal occupation and annexation of Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol at the Conference Centre of the OSCE in Vienna on 19 March.
We are surprised that the OSCE Presidency of Serbia and the OSCE leaders did not permit such a display in the organization, which aims at protection of human rights and the standards of democracy and rule of law. This is the first time in the history of the OSCE when the exhibition intended to draw attention to the severe human rights violations is prohibited. By preventing the display of the pictures, a large part of the population of Crimea cannot tell their story about the occupation of the peninsula, in the OSCE headquarters.
Lithuanian Ambassador Čekuolis noted that the whole organization can not be taken hostage by one delegation's - Russia‘s wishes. The discussion about Russia‘s crimes against Ukraine should be open and uncensored, said the ambassador.
Former Ambassador of Lithuania to Ukraine Petras Vaitiekūnas, who observed and photographed the occupation of Crimea for a few weeks in March 2014, caught a glimpse of military equipment and soldiers in uniforms without insignia, occupying public buildings, rallies in support of the Crimean integrity with Ukraine and Russia’s aggressive information campaign. Such exhibition intended to draw attention of representatives of the OSCE to the illegal occupation and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and related violations of human rights.