A source in Russian diplomatic circles who is taking part in organising the Forum told Izvestiya that, over the last few days, several politicians had, indeed, cancelled their visits, citing changes in their schedule and other reasons. “Some have told us frankly that they were advised not to attend. This is an unprecedented situation”, he noted.
Several politicians from those EU countries whose leaders come down on the side of the United Kingdom over the “Skripal case” are being pressured in connection with their intention to visit Crimea. In particular, they were “strongly encouraged” to cancel their plans to attend the Yalta International Economic Forum (YIEF) in April 2018. Andrey Nazarov, Co-Chairman of the 4th YIEF Organizing Committee, told Izvestiya about it. This information was confirmed by European MPs, who noted that the EU was using various methods to put pressure on them.
“We are talking prospective participants from those countries that have taken London’s side and decided to expel Russian diplomats. Those politicians have been advised to cancel their visit. Such clear intent exhibited by certain circles to isolate Russia and, particularly, Crimea crosses diplomatic lines. Several participants have, indeed, had to cancel their visits”, Mr Nazarov said.
The EU is set to maintain the confrontation and any European politician visiting Crimea undermines Brussels’s position, says Jan Penris, Member of Belgium’s Parliament.
“There are many mechanisms for preventing me and my colleagues from visiting the peninsula: threats, blackmail, bribery attempts. By attending YIEF, I want to show that nothing like that will work with me. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to withstand the EU’s pressure”, Jan Penris noted. “Now we are observing an escalation between Russia and the EU. But we need a dialogue, not war”, he said.
Mr Nazarov, Co-Chairman of the 4th YIEF Organizing Committee, noted that not many foreign guests invited to attend the Yalta Forum had decided to cancel. “In any case, we are talking isolated cases, and other guests will come in their place. Despite all the obstacles, we expect a record number of foreign participants at this year’s Forum”, he said.
YIEF 2018 in Crimea on April 19–21 will be attended by over 3000 guests, including more than 500 participants from approximately 60 countries. The German and Austrian delegations are expected to be the biggest at the Yalta Forum; major delegations will also come to Crimea from Italy, Greece and China.