The expert communities argue the need for Ukraine to create strategy for return and integration of Crimea, while recalling the annexation and giving insights on the nearest future.
Kyiv, June 9, 2016. The vast majority of Ukrainians – 69 percent – believe that Crimea should be part of Ukraine. Another 12 percent see the peninsula independent and 7 percent – in the Russian Federation. These are the results of a survey conducted by Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and Razumkov Centre. They were announced by Ruslan Kermach, expert-analyst of Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, at a public debate at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “In their majority, Ukrainians do not raise the question of where Crimea should belong. For them it is, without doubt, the territory of Ukraine. Yet there are some regional differences in the ways to express this position. There is, however, a certain confusion regarding the relevance of the question on strategic vision how to return the Crimea. Therefore, we need an integrated comprehensive strategy for de-occupation of the region and reintegration of the Crimean peninsula,” said Mr. Kermach.
Yusuf Kurkchi, First Deputy Minister on Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs, believes that very few people are speaking on the Crimean issue now, only those who come from Crimea. Until it becomes a strategic goal, nothing will change. “If the tendency stays for another two years, we will find neither resources, nor partners to at least return this issue on the agenda,” he stressed.
Refat Chubarov, Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, MP, noted that 31 percent of the respondents do not consider the return of Crimea well-timed. “Putin’s key resource is time. All those who say that it is not well-timed – play into the hands of Russia. […] Non-return of Crimea is a major threat to Ukraine. Now there is a great global confrontation: either Russia returns to the frames of international law, or the West agrees with it at the expense of Ukraine and the Crimean Tatars. We have to develop such forms of struggle that do not allow our partners holding separatist negotiations with Putin,” says Refat Chubarov. He added that it is important to answer the question “why should we return Crimea”. This determines how and when it will be returned. Mr. Chubarov said that the Ministry on Temporarily Occupied Territories and internally displaced persons (IDPs) should become a central platform for the discussion and promotion of Crimea’s return.
Yulia Tyschenko, expert on civil society development programs, Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research, noted that now there is a discourse that Crimea should be a Crimean Tatar national autonomy within Ukraine. “It is not enough just to declare this. We need a broad political and public debate about the principles, fundamentals, and relations with various ethnic groups in Crimea. Today, people speak too little about it. They rather are frightened with what Crimea will think, what other minorities will say, if Ukraine begins to move in this direction,” underlined Yulia Tyschenko.
Andriy Klymenko, senior editor of “BlackSeaNews” portal, said that Ukrainians’ optimism decreased over the past two years. “The reason is lack of integral public policy on Crimea. There are either fragments or verbal imitation, which provokes irritation in Crimean. If there is no state policy, but only non-governmental organizations and Western partners’ actions, this space begins to fill up with myths,” said Mr. Klymenko. Among the myths he called the idea that, the success of reforms and the welfare in Ukraine will cause Crimea’s return. According to him, this will not happen, as there is neither democracy, nor free will exists in the country that annexed Crimea. “In the next 3-4 years approximately one million residents of the Russian Federation regions will move to Crimea. There are already about 100 thousand of them in Sevastopol. They replace the Crimean population: both the Crimean Tatars, and politically active people of other nationalities,” explained Andriy Klymenko. He added that a statement that all Crimeans wanted this is also the myth: only 30 percent of the Crimea’s population had pro-Russian views at the time of the so-called “referendum”. Pavlo Kazarin, a columnist for “Krym.Realii”, stressed that the task of the Kremlin is to convince that it was precisely Crimeans that became “architects of changes and annexation.” But without Russian troops, nothing would have happened there. “The war began in Crimea, and it will end only when the peninsula will return. It is just this formula that must be an explanation for Ukrainians, why the peninsula should be under the control of Kyiv.
Yuri Smelyanskiy, expert Charity Foundation “Maidan of Foreign Affairs,” considers the poll results encouraging. “This is an indicator of citizens’ awareness about the future of their country as members of a political nation in Ukraine, even if this position is formed in the absence of well-formed internal policy from the authorities,” he stressed. The expert emphasized that if Ukraine wants to follow the path of European development, the issue of Crimea as an autonomous national republic should fully comply with European principles and rules, in particular, with the right of nations to self-determination.
Mykhailo Samus, the deputy director of the Center for Research of Army, Conversion and Disarmament for international affairs, believes that military-strategic conditions for the de-occupation of Crimea have not developed yet. “Russia can block access to the sea for Ukraine. The Ukrainian Navy is not able to prevent it. Russia continues increasing military forces on all fronts. It is also about Belarus, where at some point the troops may appear, and about Moldova, where a pro-Russian president may assume power,” noted Mykhailo Samus. He believes that Ukraine’s accession to the NATO could change the strategic balance in the region and transfer the Crimea issue to a rather different level. Creating non-nuclear strategic deterrence forces may also slow down the attacks of the Russian Federation. Mr. Samus also named the acquisition of nuclear weapons the means of survival in the conditions of the destruction of the Budapest Memorandum. “Only the countries that possess nuclear weapons have a tight control over the population and the ability to ignore the reaction of the world. […] As soon as we decide to do this, we will immediately join Russia and the West in their common pressure on Ukraine,” believes Oleksiy Garan, scientific director of the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation.