The European Commission is urging EU Member States and the IMO to declare seafarer certification issued in Crimea to be declared fraudulent.
Partially de-classified notes of an April meeting held in Brussels show that while many in Europe are sympathetic to Ukraine’s continuing campaign against “the Russian Federation’s unauthorized and unlawful practices in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and city of Sevastopol”, the IMO is less inclined to action.
National governments are bound to take action to prevent fraud, the Commission writes in the attached “non-paper”, circulated to European governments.
At past IMO meetings, Ukraine has asserted that any seafaring documents “issued after 15 July 2014 by the so-called ‘harbour masters’ of the seaports in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, are null and void, have no legal effect and, by their very nature, should be considered fraudulent”.
While both EU Member States and the US supported Ukraine and “condemned the annexation”, support from other IMO member states was more muted. One IMO subcommittee “only noted” the information provided; the Commission document shows.
The document was released to the Maritime Watch as the result of a request under EU transparency legislation. Part of the section dealing with Crimea has however been deleted.
The visible section nevertheless suggests that the IMO as a whole is not ready to classify Crimea-issued certificates as frauds.
While, the EU might be prepared to take action on its own, diplomatic sources have suggested there is also some reluctance in Europe against politicising the IMO, which is largely a technical body.