The head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium explained her trip to the occupied Crimea and said that she sincerely regrets

Anhelina Sheremet

The new head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, Aji Lyabib, who traveled to occupied Crimea in 2021, said that she went there as a journalist and documentary filmmaker.

She stated this at a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

So, during her trip, she visited the city of Sevastopol in violation of Ukrainian legislation. As a documentary filmmaker, she embodied a project that demonstrated how Russia used culture as power and propaganda, and how artists could live under oppression during such a difficult historical period.

"She sincerely regrets that this visit took place under such circumstances. Minister Labib has always defended the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, as well as the status of Crimea as an integral part of Ukraine," the statement reads.

  • The newly appointed head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, former journalist and presenter Aja Lyabib, visited the occupied Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in July 2021. She did not tell how exactly she got there, and did not call it the territory of Ukraine. In July 2021, Lyabib published photos from Sevastopol on her Instagram. She also attended the "Global Values" festival organized by the Sevastopol Academic Russian Drama Theater named after Lunacharsky. In 2021, it was held on July 23-25.
  • In addition, Lyabib posted on her Facebook photos from the exhibition in the Livadia Palace with an exposition about the Yalta Conference and from Chekhovʼs dacha in Yalta. After the trip, she was asked on television about this visit and about the status of the peninsula, in particular, about where exactly she returned from — "from Ukraine or from Russia." Lyabib did not answer clearly, but noted that "to land at Simferopol airport, a Russian visa is required."
  • On July 27, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine reported that they are in contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium and are investigating all the circumstances of the trip of the new head of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aji Lyabib, to the annexed Crimea in 2021. After that, a decision will be made there on the further fate of bilateral contacts.