Defence of Crimean Tatar rights vital for struggle to return Crimea
Prominent Crimean Tatars, political analysts and others marked International Day of Indigenous Peoples by taking part in a discussion entitled “Crimean Tatars – the indigenous people of Crimea / Ukraine.” They all stressed that even at the present time, Ukraine must not forget about the Crimea.
Andriy Klimenko, head of the board of the Crimean Expert Centre is convinced that defence of the Crimean Tatar people and their recognition as indigenous people of Ukraine have an important role to play in the legal fight against Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. Ukraine’s new Constitution must recognize that the Crimean Tatars are an indigenous people and the Crimean peninsula should be stipulated as being the national-territorial autonomy of the Crimean Tatars.
Klimenko also recommends that President Petro Poroshenko issue an instruction to have the Crimean parliament continue to function in Ukraine. This would make it possible to defend the interests of the Crimean Tatar people in the legal realm. He suggests that it would be logical for this body to be located in the Kherson oblast, next to the Crimea. This could be the institution around which all work linked with Crimeans under occupation, as well as those who have left, could be coordinated.
Veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev agrees that the defence of Crimean Tatar rights can be important for Ukraine’s struggle. He says that it was a bad mistake of Ukraine’s governments to not legally enshrine the rights of Crimean Tatars and recognize their special status. He believes that had these mistakes not been made, the serious conflicts in the Crimea might have been avoided, and Russia would have had much more difficulty carrying out its plan of annexation.
Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Refat Chubarov is convinced that the last word has yet to be said regarding Crimea, whatever arguments and self-deception the Russian leadership applies. “Any plans for restoring stable world order and renewed trust between states and peoples should include resolution of the Crimea crisis and Crimean Tatars’ problems that cannot be considered apart from each other”. Ukraine’s unwavering defence of the Crimean Tatar people’s right to self-determination in their historical homeland is vital and will prompt the international community to be uncompromising in upholding the status of Crimea as a constituent part of Ukraine.
Natalya Belitser, expert from the Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy, believes that currently, the situation has unprecedentedly changed in favour of just aspirations of Crimean Tatars to safeguard their rights in the historical Homeland; their claims have now met support and understanding of the new democratic Government and society at large. She emphasised that any strategy for returning Crimea is impossible without comprehensive acknowledgment of the Crimean Tatar factor. Moreover, formal legal regulation of the “indigenous” status of Crimean Tatar people – in particular, in full compliance with norms and standards of the UNO Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples – is extremely important for the effective assertion of Ukraine’s position concerning Crimea.
From reports by Natalya Belitser and at Radio Svoboda
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