Deputies of legislatures of Germany’s federal states who have had a tour of Crimea have not seen any signs of ‘Russian occupation’ of the peninsula, Roger Beckam, a deputy of Landtag [legislature] in North Rhine-Westphalia representing the Alternative fur Deutschland [Alternative for Germany] party told reporters on Thursday.
The delegation of deputies representing the Alternative for Germany caucuses in the legislatures of three federal states - North Rhine-Westphalia, Berlin and Baden-Wurttemberg - arrived in Crimea on February 3. Their objective is to do fact-finding in the region, as well as to ponder the ways of lifting the anti-Russian sanctions and recognizing Crimea’s status of a constituent territory of the Russian Federation.
"Our government has received a note of protest from the Ukrainian government concerning our trip to Crimea […]," Beckam said. "I’d like to state in clear terms we don’t see any kind of ‘Russian occupation’ here. I met people here who told me they wanted to be in Russia for and this is for a long, long time."
He also said the stories spread by German mass media about the situation in Crimea were "[…] unfortunately, untruthful."
"We’re glad to acknowledge that a genuine referendum was held in Crimea and we realized the introduction of sanctions was punishment to the people of Crimea, who voted for living in Russia," he said.
Harald Laatsch, a deputy from the Berlin legislature, believes that "[…] Crimea belongs to Russia and there’s no occupation."
"We saw many happy people here," he said. "It’s true that some individuals speak against reunification with Russia but they are in the minority."
"After contacts with people here in Crimea, we can say for sure the sanctions should go, and we’ll begin the discussions on revoking them after we return to Germany," said deputy Nick Fogel from Baden Wurttemberg.
He also said the Germans were well-disposed towards Russia.
"Opinion polls show there are good feelings towards Russia among Germany’s population," Fogel said.
On March 16, 2014, the authorities of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol held a referendum on the issue of reunification with Russia after an interval of 60 years. Their decision to hold it followed the February 2014 coup d’etat in Kiev and the arrival at power of violently nationalistic forces.
More than 80% of registered voters came to the polls and of that number, 96.7% in Crimea and 95.6% in Sevastopol voted in favor of reunification.
On March 18, 2014, President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty on accession of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to the Russian Federation, and both houses of Russian parliament ratified it on March 21.
In spite of more than convincing results of the referendum, Kiev and its outside supporters, primarily the U.S. and the EU, refuse to recognize the results of voting.