Dzhemiliev: We had freedom in Ukraine, and there’s no substituting that


Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev has said that Crimean Tatars are worried that the USA and Europe will focus only on de-escalation of the conflict in the east of Ukraine and basically ignore Russia’s occupation of the Crimea.  He told Radio Svoboda that he had expressed these concerns to US President Barack Obama during their meeting in Warsaw on June 3.  Obama, he says, assured him that this would not happen, and that the sanctions would not be removed until the last metre of Crimean soil was freed. 

Dzhemiliev noted, however, that they would prefer the sanctions to be more effective and not designed for many years or decades ahead.

He was asked about Petro Poroshenko inauguration speech in which Ukraine’s new President stated clearly that the Crimea was, is, and will be Ukrainian.  Asked if he shared such ‘optimism, Dzhemiliev answered that he was certain, and that he believed Poroshenko is also sure, that the Crimea must be returned.  What Russia has done is a challenge to the whole world order.  “If western countries accept this, it will be a threat to the whole world.”  Even just their instinct for self-preservation makes it vital to take proper measures to put the aggressor in his place.

What is the most important thing that Ukraine gave the Crimean Tatars that they don’t have now?

There are of course many steps, legal as well as economic, that should have been taken over the last 23 years.  “However whatever was not done, we were nonetheless in a free country, and you can’t replace that with any material benefits.”  Whatever promises Russia may give, he suggests are pointless. ”We are not putting our Homeland up for sale. We have decided: we see our future as a national territorial autonomy within the Ukrainian state. Full stop. “

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