ZAGREB, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Central European Initiative (CEI) member states on Tuesday voiced their support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine at the summit here, calling Russia's recent capture of Ukraine ships in the Kerch Strait "a violation of international law."
"Our position is clear. International law has been violated. We said everything that is accurate, common-sense and expected," Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, the host of the summit, told reporters after the meeting on Tuesday. "We support all international initiatives that would ease tensions in Ukraine," Plenkovic said.
The CEI members called on Russia to set free Ukraine's sailors and ships.
The Ukrainian Navy said that Russian forces opened fire and seized three Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait and six Ukrainian military sailors were wounded in the attack in late November.
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said the three Ukrainian ships, namely Berdyansk, Nikopol and Yany Kapu, breached the Russian border and conducted dangerous maneuvers in spite of orders of accompanying vessels from the FSB and Russia's Black Sea Fleet.
The Ukrainian Navy said it has informed Russia in advance about the passage of Ukrainian vessels from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait, calling Russia's actions an "act of aggression."
Besides the security issues in Ukraine, illegal migration was another important topic during the two-day summit in Zagreb. Plenkovic stressed that instead of physical barriers at the borders, Croatia decided to deploy 6,500 police officers. He said that the problem of illegal migrations can be effectively tackled only by a comprehensive approach, cooperating with the EU and European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).
The summit hosted an economic forum on the second day for strengthening the economy among CEI members, and Croatia expressed the hope that this issue will be dominated during the Italian presidency of the forum which begins on Jan. 1, 2019.
Five PMs and senior officials of 18 states participated at the CEI summit, with ten members being members of the EU and five that are negotiating the membership. Croatia urged all EU members to support further enlargement of the European Union.
Formed in 1989 in Budapest, the Central European Initiative is a forum regional cooperation among 18 Central and Eastern European countries. The members are Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.