The Kurultay of The Crimean Tatar People Currently Taking Place in Crimea
The morning session began with a speech by a guest of the Kurultay, Uriy Kostenko, a National Deputy of Ukraine, the Chairman of the National Rukh of Ukraine movement, and a candidate for the presidency of Ukraine.
After that, Mustafa Djemilev, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, addressed the meeting with a paper entitled "Report from the Mejlis of the
Crimean Tatar People Concerning the Activities of the Organs of National Self-Government of the Crimean Tatar People for the Period of December 1997 until September 1999". This paper makes an analysis of the current situation of the Crimean Tatar People. The following informational review gives a short abstract of the report, and the entire text in Russian and Crimean Tatar will be available in the near future.
Abstract of M. Djemilev’s Report
On the implementation of decisions of previous forums of the Kurultay
As is well known, for several years already we have had an ongoing polemic about which name of our people would be the most correct and the most scientifically grounded. In the opinion of some, the term "Crimean Tatar" should be preserved. Others think that "KIrIm" or "KIrImlI" is more correct, while a third group, particularly a significant part of our Diaspora, prefer the term "KIrIm TUrklerI".
According to a resolution adopted by an extraordinary session of the Kurultay, the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People was charged to establish a special commission on the national name of the people which would make recommendations on this issue and present them for consideration at a session of the Kurultay. Such a commission, consisting of 18 people headed by Remzi Ablayev, was established at the beginning of this year. Our scientists, writers, journalists and community activists attended this commission and maintained a variety of different opinions on the issue of the national name of the people.
Up to now this commission has held 2 meetings. Because everyone has tried to defend his own point of view, the meetings have been stormy. As a result, two editorial commissions were established to make recommendations at a session of Kurultay. As could be expected, one group made a convincing argument in defense of the preservation of the term "Crimean Tatar", while the other made a no less convincing argument questioning the viability and the groundless use of this term; that is, they substantiated the necessity of the use of the term "KIrIm" or "KIrImlI". Concurrently, an animated polemic about this issue has become intensified in our national press....
Nonetheless, it is obvious enough that complete unanimity of views on the issue of the national name of our people is still quite a long way off. Therefore, to adopt a categorical decision on this issue at the present session would, in our opinion, be inexpedient.
Political – Legal Issues
Up to the moment of the holding of the Conference of delegates to the III
Kurultay, the Supreme Council of Crimea had already adopted the new text of the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, roughly trampling on the legal rights of our people; this constitution needed only the approval of the Supreme Council of
Ukraine… Protest meetings were held against this depraved constitution, but the Supreme Council of Ukraine approved it toward the end of December 1998… The prospects of making changes to the approved Constitution of Autonomy in the direction of the protection of rights of the Crimean Tatars at this moment are practically zero, since according to the constitution of Ukraine these changes must be made by the Supreme Council of Autonomy itself, in which there is not one Crimean Tatar representative. And the chauvinistic tune of the majority of the present constituents of the Crimean Parliament is well known.
Issues of citizenship
Since autumn of 1998, after the signing of the Agreement "On a simplified procedure for the solution of citizenship issues for deported peoples and their children and grandchildren" between Ukraine and Uzbekistan on September 5th 1998…concerning the approximately 62,000 of our compatriots who arrived in Crimea from Uzbekistan without Ukrainian citizenship, by September 1st of this year already more than 21,000 had gotten their citizenship and more than 27,000 had submitted documents for their release from citizenship of Uzbekistan; this constitutes about 62% of the emigrants from Uzbekistan.
…The situation of obtaining Ukrainian citizenship is more complicated for our compatriots who are still living on the territories of Russia, Kazakstan, Tadzhikistan, Kyrgyzstan and some other former Soviet republics or who have arrived in Crimea from those countries, because agreements of simplified procedure for release from their citizenship in those states have not been signed yet. This constitutes approximately 25 % of our compatriots who have lived or are living on the territory of the former USSR.
On the Council of Representatives of the Crimean Tatar People Attached to the President of Ukraine
Recently a secret document, created in an analytical leadership center of the Supreme Council of Crimea, fell in our hands. The document says that to consider the Mejlis after the October session of the Kurultay would be a big mistake, even though to the contrary its influence has become stronger both in Crimea and among international organizations. Therefore, the document recommended the intensification of work to cause a schism in the present constituency of Mejlis. The document goes on to say, "However, as before, in the interests of the priority goal, a system of measures for the support and stimulation of national movement groups undoubtedly must be considered, meaning those groups standing apart from the Mejlis, and especially those in opposition to it". Namely, in the plan of recommendations of the analytical center, in the beginning of this year should be overseen the creation and financing of a so-called "council of old men" by the Chairman of the Supreme Council and the Communist Party L. Grach, from certain numbers of Crimean Tatars selected by him, whom people call the "white jackals".
…On 17 May of this year, the high point of mass political actions of Crimean Tatars in connection with the 55th Anniversary of the deportation, a meeting was held between the President of Ukraine and leadership of the Mejlis. An agreement was achieved during the meeting, stating that the President would sign a Decree on the establishment of a Council of representatives of the Crimean Tatar People as an Advisory body attached to the President of Ukraine, and all the constituents of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People would be included…On May 18, this Decree was signed by the President.
Issues of Privatization and the Obtaining of Land Allotments
Issues of the protection of the rights of our compatriots in this area were raised by us in many meetings with officials of Ukraine and the leaders of Autonomy. We failed, however, to achieve the establishment of a special reserve fund for deported peoples who have not been able to return to the Motherland. This means that by the time they return all state property may be already privatized and our compatriots will be left with nothing. Some progress was achieved regarding the sharing of land. As a result, the last Decree of the President of Ukraine on land issues dating June 28 and a resolution of the Council of Ministers on May 24 of this year indicate that allotments of land plots will be provided for deported peoples arriving in Ukraine for permanent residence.
On the Representation of Crimean Tatars in Executive Bodies of the Government of Autonomy
As a result of the March elections of 1998, none of the representatives of the Crimean Tatar People got into the parliament of Crimea, therefore depriving the Crimean Tatars of an opportunity to influence the forming of the government of Autonomy. Without this influence the already extremely low percent of Crimean Tatars in executive bodies of government is becoming increasingly lower. They are dismissed from work on various pretexts, and if these pretexts are not found, sometimes provocation is resorted to. …In many cases, this is done with the help of law-enforcement agencies.
Lately, rough and illegal pressure on from the hand of law enforcement as well as from financial agencies on private Crimean Tatar businessmen has become more frequent, with the aim to destroy their businesses, to deny them an opportunity to live better and to completely destroy them. And this is in spite of the fact that because of the chauvinistic atmosphere surrounding them, the Crimean Tatars constitute an insignificant per cent of the private sector. Businessmen suspected of giving assistance to the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People are especially subjected to pressure.
The most urgent issues continue to be problems of unemployment, housing, roads, and communications for our settlements….I am speaking here about those spheres, where the position of the Crimean Tatars is several times worse than among the rest of the population of Crimea. As a result of the unsettled situation, shortage of housing, lack of elementary social conveniences, high level of unemployment, and very hard economic conditions of our compatriots, the sickness and mortality rates of our people are continuously increasing. Thus according to the information of our Medical Center,
in comparison with 1994 the rate of tuberculosis has increased 1.5 times, the rate of oncological sicknesses has increased 8 times, and the rate of sicknesses concerning the nervous system and the circulation of the blood has increased several times over. There are approximately 250 new settlements of Crimean Tatars living very compactly without any medical establishments of their own.
The solution of many of these social issues is connected, of course, first of all with the allotment of money from the state budget for programs for the return and
resettlement of deported peoples. However, the allotments of money are so insignificant that they are not solving even a hundredth part of the problems.
…It has been proposed to hold the next donor conference on issues of National Minorities under the aegis of the High Commissioner of OSCE of Max Van Der
Stoel with the goal of attracting money for the solution of the social problems of the Crimean Tatars. It is also planned to consider the political-legal and social issues of our people in a special continuously acting "round table" which is proposed to be organized under the aegis of the UN in Canada in the nearest months.
Issues of Education in the Mother Tongue
…The first generation after deportation still grew up in families where the parents basically spoke the mother tongue and mixed marriages were a rare exception. Thus this generation mastered the spoken language at an everyday level. Currently, the majority even of the adult constituency of our people were born in places of exile, and their children already know the mother tongue at an everyday level less than their parents do. And if one is to pass by the homes of our young families, it will often be discovered that they don’t know even the simplest words in their mother tongue. One can confidently say that if those children are not educated in schools in their mother tongue, our nation will receive a lost generation of traitors.
The situation concerning the education of our children in their native language and the prospects for our people which flow from it is, obviously, extremely fit for the administration of Autonomy. The Ministry of Education of Autonomy does not work toward solving the issues of education of Crimean Tatars in their native
language, but on the contrary – toward hindering the opening of new Crimean Tatar schools.
According to the so-called "Regional program of development of general and secondary education in ARC" created by the Ministry of Education and approved by a resolution of the Council of Ministers of Crimea, the average number of schools teaching the Crimean Tatar language by 2010 should not exceed 20 schools. Going at this rate, just to achieve the level of education in the native language that existed before deportation would require no less then 200 years.
Issues of Transition into Latin Script
The Ministry of Education of Autonomy has not taken any measures for the realization of the Program of the transition of the Crimean Tatar language into Latin script, which was adopted by a faction of the Kurultay in the parliament of Crimea.
Currently, a special group has been established under the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People with the goal of assisting the realization of the transition into Latin script.
The Mejlis publishing house has begun to publish the magazines "Ocaq" and "G?nsel", the settlement newspaper "Qasaba", and several brochures.
It would be expedient if all of our newspapers would regularly publish even a part of their material in Latin script.
Our people must get to used to Latin letters. With this goal in mind it should be considered necessary that all signs, announcements, and street names in Crimean Tatar settlements be replaced with ones in Latin script.
On the Presidential Elections
The numbers of Crimean Tatars are not large; in addition, part of them have no right to vote because they lack Ukrainian citizenship. Thus we, of course, are not able to significantly influence the results of the elections. However, in spite of this, the question of the Presidency does not cease to be very important and fundamental for our people.
I propose that we must vote for a candidate from those political forces which have the goal to create a democratic, independent and powerful state, and whose vision of the future of Crimea and the forms of solutions of Crimean Tatar issues maximally match our own opinions. I will mention that of all the political forces in Ukraine, only the National Rukh of Ukraine movement has written in its program that it will strive for a restoration of the status of Crimea with inalienable rights to self-determination for its Indigenous People, and that Crimean Tatars must function equally with Ukrainians on the territory of Crimea. For many years our National Movement has cooperated with the National Rukh of Ukraine, and we have no reason to re-consider our friendly allied relations with National Rukh. Thus I think that the Kurultay must appeal to our people to participate in the upcoming elections and vote for Genadii Udovenko.
Eight years of work has convincingly proven how timely and necessary has been the establishment of a system of national self-government of our people, including the Kurultay, the Mejlis, and a network of regional and local Mejlis. Successes and failures in asserting our rights will depend directly on how strong and effective this system is, and how much our people trust it.
Next the "Report from the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Concerning the Activities of the Organs of National Self-Government of the Crimean Tatar People for the Period of December 1997 until September 1999" was addressed by Ayder Mustafayev, Chairman of the Inspection Commission of Kurultay. He gave a detailed description of the work accomplished by the commission and presented its analysis of the difficult political and socio–economic position of the people, caused to a significant extent by the extreme shortage of financing available for return and resettlement. He then turned his attention to provocation against Crimean Tatars and made the conclusion that some state representatives of the Crimean and Ukrainian governments have consciously prevented a solution to the problems of the Crimean Tatar People.
Ayder Mustafayev moved on to criticize the work of some members of the Mejlis and delegates of the Kurultay, who brought the Representative Body to schism and crisis in 1997. Their actions sharply complicated the position of the Crimean Tatar People and caused a lack of Crimean Tatar representatives in the Parliament of Crimea, as well as causing a sharp reduction of Crimean Tatars in bodies of executive power in the peninsula. The speaker criticized the members and the work of all departments of the Mejlis. He also called on the department of education of the Mejlis to intensify work for the opening of national schools in Crimea.
The Chairman of the Inspection Commission then turned his attention to the destruction of official policy, which creates puppet structures, such as the "Council of old
men" attached to the Chairman of the Council of Crimea and communist leader L. Grach. For important appointments, the authorities of Crimea seek to select those persons who please them, and who try in all ways to stress their position as being opposed to the decisions of Mejlis. In particular, Remzi Havadzhi, deputy of the representative of the President of Ukraine in Crimea, speaks out against the idea that "the Mejlis in its present composition has become a representative body of the Crimean Tatar People".
After that sharp speeches by the delegates followed, in which they touched upon the numbers of regulations made in the reports that had been made. Some members of the Mejlis and delegates of the Kurultay addressed the audience with criticism relating to the work of Mejlis, and expressed their non-consent with the decisions of a previous extra session of the Kurultay, which was held in December. At that time a session, seeking to overcome a crisis in the Mejlis, removed 16 persons from its constituency and elected others. A number of delegates tried to convince the session to exceed the authority of the Chairman of Mejlis and expressed doubt as to the viability of the Council of Representatives of the Crimean Tatar People under the President of Ukraine, considering that this Council will not be able to solve the problems of the Crimean Tatars. However, those speeches were not supported by majority of delegates.
The Representative of the Mejlis in Central Asia, Ali Hamzin, noted that after the adoption of the Agreement "On a simplified procedure for the solution of citizenship issues for deported peoples and their children and grandchildren" on September 5, 1998 between Ukraine and the Republic of Uzbekistan, all representation activity was connected only with the process of disseminating and explaining information about issues of citizenship for compatriots. The unexpected official position of Uzbekistan not to publish the information on the given Agreement through mass media forced the
representation of the Mejlis to take it on himself to organize explanatory work. He also recognized the great help of the Central Mejlis, without which it would
have been difficult to expand such an activity. Ali Hamzin dwelt in detail on obstacles to the adoption of Ukrainian citizenship by Crimean Tatars living in Uzbekistan. In his opinion, a pleasant result of working as a representative has been the assurance that the overwhelming number of his compatriots are not just planning, but are actively striving to return to Crimea, binding all their own hopes and the future of their children with their historical Motherland.
Among the issues discussed in this session of Kurultay were issues of the adoption of a law on the status of Crimean Tatar People by the Ukrainian Parliament, the establishment of a quota for Crimean Tatars in the parliament of Autonomy, the rebirth of national education, and the status of the Crimean Tatar language. Delegates sharply criticized the approved Constitution of Crimea by the communist regime, which violates the rights of Indigenous People, and considered different aspects of integration of Crimean Tatars into the Ukrainian community. Also discussed were the issues of returning to Crimea while leaving a portion of one’s people in places of deportation, the return of former mosques to religious communities, and the construction of new ones.
After all of the speeches, the Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Mustafa Dzhemilev answered those questions which arose as a result of his report
and made some remarks on the opinions of some of the delegates.
The session adopted a resolution, "The main tasks of activity for the bodies of national self-government of the Crimean Tatar People for the period until the
IV Kurultay of the Crimean Tatar People", and a statement of the Kurultay of the Crimean Tatar People in connection with the terroristic policy of Russia in the
The Kurultay will continue its work on October 3rd.
Back to main page.