BERLIN, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Germany will not recognize the outcome of a referendum held in Crimea and called for a quick move of an observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to prevent escalations in Ukraine, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday.
In a referendum organized by the government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and by the local government of Sevastopol on Sunday, people were asked to vote on two options: reuniting Crimea with Russia or restoring the 1991 Crimean constitution and remaining part of Ukraine.
Official results showed nearly 97 percent of Crimean voters chose to join Russia. Following the vote, the Crimean parliament declared independence from Ukraine and applied to become part of Russia.
Germany condemns the unlawful vote and will not recognize its outcome. "This referendum is contrary to the Ukrainian constitution and international law, "Seibert said, adding that" it is illegal in our view."
The spokesman said an OSCE observer mission should carry out its work as soon as possible in a bid to prevent escalations in southern and eastern Ukraine.
In a phone talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had suggested that the existing OSCE presence in Ukraine should be quickly expanded and a larger number of observers be sent to conflict areas in the country, according to a statement of the German government.
Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Sunday in the telephone conversation with Merkel that the Crimea referendum breach no international law and Moscow will respect the choice of local residents, earlier reports said.
"We are hoping that this will be reflected in Russia's act," Seibert said.
The German government will continue with its diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, the spokesman noted, urging Russia to end its military activities in Ukraine as far as they are not accepted by Kiev and in accordance with agreements with the Ukrainian government.
Russia said Monday that it has initiated a support group for Ukraine that would be acceptable for all political forces in the country and outlined major principles for a settlement of the ongoing crisis.
"Participants in the support group would be obliged by the principles of respecting the interests of the multi-ethnic Ukrainian people, and backing Ukrainians' struggle for living in security in compliance with their customs and traditions," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The group should also persuade the Ukrainian authorities to call a constitutional assembly and hold a popular referendum for adopting a new constitution, said the statement. After the adoption of a new constitution, general elections must be organized, it said, adding that Crimea's right to decide its status in line with Sunday's referendum must be recognized and respected.