Kyiv, February 26, 2016. “For me, today’s situation with Crimea confirms a “deadlock” of its development over twenty three years of direct Ukrainian sovereignty over this territory […]. We should learn important lessons from this – what Crimea will be, beginning with its status, and ending with all legal mechanisms that will govern relationships, life, guarantees, development of all those who live on the peninsula. It is our objective for today,” said Refat Chubarov, Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, MP, at a discussion at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. According to him, the situation with the Crimea is a major challenge for the Crimean Tatar people and the whole international community. The Crimean Tatars have the right of self-determination, the right to choose their future without any pressure. This does not mean that the rights of others will be violated. Refat Chubarov called to join forces before de-occupation of Crimea and detail the initiatives to preserve the rights and self-determination of indigenous people. “Self-determination of the Crimean Tatar people must be as a national territorial autonomy. Everything else is detailing the tools,” stated Refat Chubarov. However, he emphasized that the principle of equality of rights should be applied.
The issue of the status of Crimea should be resolved before its return, stressed Bohdan Yaremenko, diplomat, chairman of the charity foundation “Maidan of Foreign Affairs”. “To the moment when our troops and our administration return to the peninsula, we should have clear signals for the population of Crimea, the rest of Ukraine and the international community about the status of this region and the rights of its citizens, – stressed Bohdan Yaremenko. Obviously, the status of the Crimean Tatar national autonomy is the answer to two questions at once.”That is, it will signal residents that their rights will not be reduced and that Crimea will not turn into Russian autonomy. In fact, the diplomat casts no doubt on Crimea returning to Ukraine. “Crimea is rightfully ours. So when we become stronger, we will return it by force, and everything will fall into place,” added Mr. Yaremenko. Meanwhile, according to him, today the Russian occupation authorities in Crimea are practicing the new methods of control over public opinion, new methods of influence and suppression of disloyal elements. It is in the need for Russian authorities for two reasons. First, they plan to develop Crimea as a powerful military base and it is of strategic importance because Crimea is part of Russia’s plan to overcome the U.S. missile defense system, considers Mr. Yaremenko. “Obviously the Russian grouping will soon consist of a huge number – 100-120 thousand people in Crimea. Disloyal people constitute a threat at the military base of such kind with all services and branches of the armed forces up to nuclear weapon,” said Bohdan Yaremenko. Therefore, consolidated “Crimean Tatar population of Crimea with their ability to resist” is forced out of the peninsula. Besides, the Russian authorities are using global methods of mind control, intimidation, influence on the population in Crimea that eventually will be transferred to the rest of Russia, said the diplomat.
Oliver Loode, Vice-President of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, stressed the importance of adopting the European Parliament resolution “On the human rights situation in Crimea, in particular of the Crimean Tatars” on February 4 this year. Besides that, the document recognizes the Crimean Tatars as indigenous, said Oliver Loode, with corresponding rights and freedoms, including self-identity. At the same time, Mr. Loode said that the rights of indigenous peoples cannot violate the territorial integrity of the UN member states. “These are guarantees to Ukraine that the realization of Crimean Tatars’ rights as an indigenous people cannot be of a separatist nature.” He denied the possible accusations that desire for autonomy can have a separatist tinge. In addition, Mr. Loode, as Vice-President of the UN Permanent Forum, warned Russia that the likely ban on Mejlis activities as a representative institution of indigenous people in Crimea “is a gross violation of the collective rights of the Crimean Tatars as an indigenous people of Crimea”. “If the occupation authorities prohibit the Mejlis, it is a direct attack on the Crimean Tatars as an indigenous people […], and indirectly, it is an attack on all indigenous peoples of the world,” emphasized Mr. Loode.
Natalia Belitser, expert at the Pylyp Orlyk Institute, called on MPs to speed up the process of determining the status of the Crimean Tatar people as an indigenous people of Crimea. The expert also suggested that there may be problems with the constitutional recognition of the rights of the Crimean Tatar people as an indigenous people of Ukraine. “The already completed version of the second section of the new Constitution does not mention any rights of national minorities or indigenous peoples at all, unlike the national strategy on human rights,” says Ms. Belitser.
According to Georgiy Logvynskyi, MP, it is necessary to develop an effective mechanism, such as the parliament of Crimean Tatars, the Ombudsman and the Attorney General of the nation. “These people must have guarantees from the state,” said Mr. Logvynskyi. Then, people who are involved in the Crimean issues will have state and diplomatic immunity. By and large, according to Logvynskyi, Crimea was used in the global geopolitical game to destroy Ukraine as a whole. After all, since World War II, history has had no examples when the occupied territory would be joined to a neighboring country. It is a very serious step, says the MP. “The Russian Federation uses Crimea to intimidate Ukraine. But there were no cases when most of the people stood up and said “we will go against the authorities, against the force, we will go for the truth” […]. It is important that the Crimean Tatars proved too tough for the most totalitarian system of government that exists in Europe today,” said the MP. Furthermore, Logvynskyi called on the international community not to recognize Crimea as a territory of the frozen conflict. “We do not have a frozen conflict, but a current conflict, when our country was occupied,” he stressed. Mykola Kniazhytskyi, MP, said that “if we respect ourselves as Ukrainians, the same way we should respect the Crimean Tatars.” He is sure that, in order to build a state, we must have strong culture. That is why Ukraine should support the Crimean Tatar culture and language and become the center of their full revival, emphasized Mr. Kniazhytskyi.