Dutch UN envoy chased out of Crimea
The Dutch UN special envoy and secretary-general representative Robert Serry, who traveled to Crimea on Wednesday for negotiations, was threatened by armed men and chased away.
"The incident points out how serious the situation has become ", Serry told British tv network ITV before a hasty departure at the airport.
ITV Europe Editor, James Mates, traveled to Simferopol, to find that the Dutch diplomat was forced to take shelter in a coffee shop. On his Twitter account, Mates claims Serry was unharmed, but was being prevented from leaving by some men "in combat fatigues" outside. "Some wear pro Russia black and gold arm band."
— James Mates (@jamesmatesitv) March 5, 2014
Robert Serry was invited to visit a navy commander. "I can only say that I have admiration for the marines. They try to keep the essence and integrity of the country in check."
Shortly after his departure from the marines, unidentified men blocked his car. These men said they had special orders to bring him to the airport. Serry refused. They did not say where the orders came from.
Serry decided to stay in the car and see what happened. "My driver was dragged out of the car, armed people came in. I decided to get out and tried to stop a taxi, but the people who followed me made that impossible."
After some time, Serry walked across the street to a coffee shop. "Meanwhile I tried to make contact with people who would help me, including the press."
He was stuck in the coffee shop for an hour while armed men surrounded the place. After some time, Serry decided to end his mission in Crimea and go to the airport of his own accord, but he was met by angry pro-Russia protesters as he left the coffee shop. Police finally intervened and Serry was able to get into his car amidst a crowd of "Russia Russia" chants from the protesters.
According to the ITV report, the protesters chanted "Crimea is Russian" as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin's name as Serry entered his vehicle.
In an exclusive interview, Serry admits that he "felt sorry for the locals caught up in the crisis" after witnessing how serious the situation in the region is.
Robert Serry has worked for the peace process in the Middle East since 2007. He was the first Dutch ambassador in Ukraine, and worked as crisis manager at NATO until 2005.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frans Timmermans, writes on Facebook that he has "respect and admiration" for Robert Serry. "Robert should just be able to do his job there and not be crossed by armed men who obviously can't offer the UN any respect."
Serry is unharmed, and was put on a flight. He arrived safely in the Turkish capital Istanbul, the NOS reports.
"It was an unnerving day", Serry told the NOS after lading in Istanbul. To the question what he was going to be doing in Istanbul, he answered: "I am going to the hotel and sleep in a bit."