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The Kurultay of the Crimean Tatar People Meeting in Crimea




The Third Day




The Regulations of the Kurultay of the Crimean Tatar People. 


The third day's session began with discussion of the project "Regulations of the Kurultay". As the Kurultay always pays careful attention to correct procedure in carrying out its business, discussion of the Regulations was thoroughgoing and time consuming.


The chairman of the meeting, first deputy to the Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Refat Chubarov, read and explained the proposed changes to the Regulations. The delegates individually discussed the items raised. In the draft in question the proposal was made to eliminate, from the Regulations, clauses dealing with: the confirmation of the first deputy to the Chairman of the Mejlis, confirmation of the Mejlis' authority by the Kurultay and the Kurultay's relationship to the Mejlis' authority. Some delegates (Lilya Budzurova and Lennur Arifiv) came out against this amendment. There was an intense debate. The proposal was put to a vote and the amendment passed by a majority of votes of the delegates.


Heated discussion also surrounded the issues of: selection of the Kurultay’s delegates; termination of Kurultay delegates’ authority; and conferences and assemblies of the Kurultay. The delegates decided that, henceforth, confirmation of the agenda and the making of changes and additions to it will be by simple-majority vote (instead of two-thirds) of the total number of elected national representatives.


Many deputies addressed their comments to the part of the Regulations, which deals with the election of officials and subordinate bodies of the Kurultay. Some of them expressed their approval that this issue was not dealt with at this time, because the current Chairman of the Mejlis, according to them, has instituted an authoritarian life-long exercise of power.


The Chairman of the Mejlis, Mustafa Dzhemilev, was then compelled to comment on these statements. He reminded the audience that despite the tough talk about the legality or illegality of the Mejlis, it is the supreme representative body of the people. "If the Chairman of this body should have fundamental defects, if confidence in him, for any reason, becomes weak, he should immediately be substituted by a person who carries the confidence of the people at large". He continued that what is being worked on at the present session of the Kurultay is the question concerning re-election of the Chairman of the Mejlis, it having been wished that this be raised along with consideration of new nominees. By dealing with this, firstly, the present Chairman, also being a Deputy of the Ukrainian Parliament, will not be "worn out between Kiev and Simferopol". Releasing him from the Chairman’s post would give him enough time for effective activity in protection of the national interest. "Secondly, pursuant to the Regulations of the Kurultay, in a year and a half the Chairman of the Mejlis will be re-elected, and if at the present session the nominee for (the new) Chairman is approved, delegates will have had enough time to evaluate his performance (at the time of re-election). If it were found that the new Chairman had managed his responsibilities well, it would be a simple matter of re-electing him for a new term. If it appears that he is not well suited to the post then the election of another candidate will be uncontroversial and this will free the departing Chairman from the unpleasant experience of facing a 'no confidence' motion".


M. Dzhemilev also informed delegates that he has raised, at many of the Mejlis' meetings, the problem of revising the chapter (of the Regulations) which deals with elected officials and bodies of the Kurultay; however a majority of the Mejlis’ members do not support him on this point. He finished by saying that statements of some Kurultay delegates suggesting that he had instituted a life term for the post (of Chairman) and referring to his transferring the post by right of succession are, at the very least, not deserved and offensive.


The provision dealing with the term of office of the Chairman of the Mejlis and with the voting procedure for election to this position (secret or open) was also considered. A new version of this provision was adopted by a majority of votes. The section now reads, "on the demand of one-third of delegates of the Kurultay or at the request of the Chairman of the Mejlis, the confirmation of the Chairman of the Mejlis will be conducted by secret ballot". Next, a provision bestowing upon the Mejlis authority as the unified supreme representative body of the Crimean Tatar People was adopted with some amendments. Additionally, new wording dealing with 'no confidence' motions directed towards either the whole Mejlis or separate members was adopted by a majority of votes.


After a long debates and much discussion the Regulations of the Kurultay of Crimean Tatar People were adopted with the proposed new wording.


Ukrainian Presidential Elections.

In the second half of the day the issue of the forthcoming elections for the country’s President was considered. Refat Chubarov presented the report "Concerning the Elections of the Ukrainian President". He informed the meeting that the question at hand had already been considered at the Mejlis’s meetings and that he had been requested to prepare the report and to provide necessary details on the matter. Further, he said that, at this time, 15 candidates for the presidency of Ukraine are already identifiable, each representing different political forces.


Dependant upon the choices of each voter, R. Chubarov noted, is the country’s ongoing destiny, that of all of its citizens, and, in particular, that of the Crimean Tatars Ö their future from tomorrow onwards. The Mejlis Vice-president stressed: "It is very difficult for the (political) bodies which represent the will of the entire people to determine such issues. It is much easier for specific political forces to simply support their own candidates." R.  Chubarov reminded delegates "the Kurultay’s delegates are elected by Crimean Tatars, and in the same way the political inclinations, sympathies and views of Crimean Tatars, including of the delegates to the Kurultay, can be determined on an individual basis. Nobody is free to dictate to anyone which political philosophy they should adopt."


The speaker noted that: "today, during the discussion of this question, different points of view will be enunciated. Taking this as a point of departure, there is no necessity for the highest representative body of the Crimean Tatars to make a decision on the question at hand. Indeed, if it were to do so, responsibility for the position adopted and its consequences would be troublesome from the point of view of solving the current problems of the Crimean Tatars." Those delegates who have already settled on a particular candidate can present a case to the Kurultay in support of their point of view. All proposals will be heard and resolutions will be adopted with regard to them during the Kurultay. The speaker called on the delegates not to support the candidates from the extreme left-wing as well as those candidates whose pre-election program is not compatible with the aspirations of the Crimean Tatar People: those that have already stated with certainty a position inimical to the solution of the Crimean Tatar's problems. This means, he continued, candidates for the post of President such as the Ukrainian Communist leader, Peter Simonenko; the Head of the Parliament, Alexander Tkachenko; Natalia Vetrenko; and others. In conclusion he proposed to the delegates that these issues be spoken to and that an attempt be made to formulate resolutions to be put to a vote.


Following this the delegates made statements and brought forward proposals. At the conclusion of the discussion it had become clear that the delegates were coming down on the side of the following candidates for the post of President: Gennadiy Udovenko, Head of the National Rukh Party (Movement) of Ukraine; Leonid Kuchma, the current President; and Evgeniy Marchuk, MP of Ukraine. Among the speakers there were also those proposing a boycott of the forthcoming elections as a sign of protest against the non-resolution of the Crimean Tatars’ problems, along with those who called upon the Kurultay not to adopt any resolution on the question under consideration and to leave it up to the people themselves to make their selection.


Those who spoke in support of the current President based their position on the fact that Leonid Kuchma, though not having done enough, nevertheless did do something in furtherance of a solution to the Crimean Tatars’ problems and that his position in relation to the Crimean Tatar People is at least already known. If another candidate were to be elected President it is not currently clear how that person would be disposed towards the problems of the Crimean Tatars, they said. The supporters of Gennadiy Udovenko admitted that he has little chance of becoming President, but they said that by supporting him Crimean Tatars would show their principled and purposeful nature. From the very beginning Crimean Tatars have publicly cooperated with the National Rukh (Movement) of Ukraine. Individual delegates expressed their support for Evgeniy Marchuk because of his loyalty to Crimean Tatars. In only one regard were the delegates unanimous: in their lack of support for the candidates of the left-wing.


Before the voting on this question, the Mejlis’s Chairman Mustafa Dzhemilev took the floor. He explained why it is impossible to boycott the elections and impossible for the Kurultay not to adopt any resolution on the question at hand: the future, not only of Crimean Tatars, but also of the entire country, will depend on participation in the elections and selection of the candidate who will come to power. He stated that the Crimean Tatar People in Ukraine act, from a political point of view, as a people with precisely defined purposes and direction. Consequently, "other people will pay attention to the selection made by the Crimean Tatar People." He stated, "Crimean Tatars have a reputation as a people who, on questions of principle, distinctly maintain their position". If Crimean Tatars support someone other than the representatives of the National Rukh (Movement) it could fundamentally affect the defense of Crimean Tatars' views and rights.  M. Dzhemilev stressed that any resolution adopted by the Kurultay on this question should be recognized by the delegates, whatever their personal opinions.


Voting followed in which a the majority of the delegates came out in support of the nominee from the National Rukh (Movement) of Ukraine, Gennadiy Udovenko. However, due to that fact that the chances of this candidate continuing on to the second round (of the voting in the presidential election) are slight, there remained a problem of which candidate to select in the second round. Because of this the Kurultay gave the Mejlis the power, after the first round, to select a preferred candidate for the purposes of voting by Crimean Tatars.


Confirmation of (office holders') authority and rotation of the Mejlis.

The delegates moved on to discussing the items on the session’s agenda dealing with the confirmation of authority of the Mejlis’s Chairman and of the First Vice-president of the Mejlis, as well as the issue of rotation of the Mejlis and of the Revision Commission of the Kurultay. Proposals were made to remove these questions from the discussion, but some delegates opposed this.


The delegate Enver Kurtiev expressed mistrust towards Mejlis member Refat Chubarov for, he said, a lack of activity, his having been deputy-speaker of the Crimean Parliament in its last session, particularly in dealing with problems such as: the toponymy of Crimea, national minority issues and the Constitution of Crimea.  R. Chubarov convincingly showed that all these charges were unfounded and unsubstantiated. He underlined that, at all times, he adhered in his actions to the resolutions adopted by the Kurultay and the Mejlis.


The delegate Enver Ametov proposed a no confidence resolution directed towards the whole Mejlis membership for, according to him, its many failings of organization which have resulted in the adoption of the Crimean Constitution, limiting the rights of the Crimean Tatar People. Reshat Dzhemilev joined him in proposing no confidence in the whole Mejlis membership due to the fact, as he outlined, that nothing has been done recently to solve the problems of the Crimean Tatars. There were also proposals to express no confidence towards the Chairman of the Revision Commission, Ayder Mustafaev; towards the Chairman of Bakchisaray regional Mejlis, Ilmi Umerov; and towards the Mejlis member, Mamedi Chobanov. In the end, however, none of these motions succeeded and the delegates voted confidence in all former members of the Mejlis.


After that the delegates began, first, to discuss papers related to the Kurultay and, then, to adopt resolutions relating to those documents. The texts of the decrees and pronouncements of the Kurultay were read. Some were adopted immediately with minor amendments, while others were sent to be worked up by the Editorial Commission, followed by subsequent presentation to the Mejlis for confirmation. Among the other documents adopted there was an "Appeal to the Heads of the States and Governments of CIS Participant Countries". This appeal was addressed to a conference of CIS participant countries that will take place shortly in Crimea (at Yalta).


Appellation of and by Crimean Tatars.

Particularly polemical debate amongst delegates arose regarding a document dealing with the problems of (self-)appellation of the Crimean Tatar People. It was stated that for many years this question has been a point of concern for a majority of Crimean Tatars. The opinions expressed were divided into two camps. One adhered to the current title "Crimean Tatars", while the other was inclined to use the title “Kirimly (Crimean, tatar version)”, “Krimets (Crimean, russian version)” or Krimskiy Narod (People of Crimea, russian version)”. There is a heated ongoing exchange between representatives of both groups in the press. The result of all of this is a split between the people and a fundamental loss for the national movement. Due to this situation, a commission of the Mejlis was especially created in order to find a resolution. This commission proposed, by way of solution, that all appellations in use be considered synonyms and that there be a cessation of the debate on the topic in the national press. Further, it suggested, official documents would use the existing title, "Crimean Tatars". The commission's proposal met strong opposition from delegates. As discussion of this problem had the potential to proceed indefinitely, it was decided not to adopt the commission's document, and consideration of this problem was put aside until the (next) Fourth Kurultay of the Crimean Tatar People that will take place in 2001. At this point, discussion and adoption of the Kurultay’s various documents was complete.


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Completion of the Session of the Kurultay.

Abduraim Demirayak, the representative of the Crimean Tatar Association in the USA, took the floor first and, on behalf of compatriots (overseas) and personally, expressed his thanks to all the delegates of the Kurultay for their effective work.


In his closing address Mustafa Dzhemilev thanked all the delegates for their constructive and fruitful work during the three days and expressed hope that forthcoming Kurultays will be even more successful. Further, he noted that delegates had not come to a common opinion on all questions, some delegates having divergent visions. However, he continued, it is necessary to show more tolerance toward one another in the face of the considerable diversity in viewpoints. Their enemies and opponents welcome all of the difficulties and differences between the people. They are harmful where national issues are concerned.  M. Dzhemilev exhorted the delegates to future successful work and preparation for the next Kurultay. He thanked the guests for their strong support and declared the closing of the Second Session of the Third Kurultay of the Crimean Tatar People.


At the end of the forum the Crimean Tatar National Anthem and Ukrainian State Anthem were played.


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In addition to this information, in the near future text of the main speeches and of documents adopted by the Kurultay, along with photographs, will be posted on this site.