International Committee for Crimea
ICC News Digest No. 2 (Summer 2005)
SUMMARIES OF SELECTED NEWS ABOUT CRIMEAN TATARS
Crimean Tatars Discussed at Turkey-Ukraine Summit
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko visited Turkey on June 6-8 and met with Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan and President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. He said the two Black Sea powers would press forward with their plans to join the European Union. His statement comes following the rejection of the new EU constitution by French and Dutch voters. With a combined population of 120 million, Turkey and Ukraine are perceived by many as a threat to the economic stability of the EU. President Sezer noted the beginning of a new era in cooperation between the two countries, which signed agreements in the areas of energy, law enforcement, science and technology, and trade. Yushchenko and Sezer also discussed the status of the Crimean Tatars, and Sezer expressed his hope that the 300,000 faithful citizens of Ukraine who share cultural and historic ties to Turkey will play an important role in furthering the relations between the two countries.
Crimean Aspects Website (Bakhchisaray)
On June 7, Presidents of Ukraine and Turkey, Viktor Yushchenko and Ahmet Necdet Sezer, discussed issues related to resettlement of the Crimean Tatar people of Ukraine. The President of Ukraine stressed that the resolution of social, economic, spiritual and cultural problems of Crimean Tatars is a priority for the new Ukrainian administration: "We are restoring justice for all those who fell victim to Stalin's deportations and returned to their native land," he said. Yushchenko also added that Crimea must become "an island of stability." The Chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Mustafa Jemilev, accompanied President Yushchenko to Turkey. (17 June 2005)
Confrontation at Tykha Bukhta
Krymskaya Gazeta (Yalta)
According to an official statement issued by the Crimean police, an interethnic conflict was barely averted at the Tykha Bukhta (Bay) near the Crimean south coastal resort of Koktebel. The conflict began in the night of 8 July when Crimean Tatars began to build houses at Tykha Bukhta without permission in spite of the natural reserve status of the Bay area. These "unlawful actions" have caused "resentment" of the local ethnic Russian population, the statement says. The troops were brought from all over Crimea in order to keep the situation under control. Crimean Prosecutor's Office has launched a criminal case against Crimean Tatars who attempted to settle at the Bay over the deliberate destruction of territories and natural reserve sites guarded by the state. Commenting on the Tykha Bukhta incident, Crimean Prime Minister Anatoliy Matviyenko has dismissed it as a "political speculation by someone who wants to grab land." Matviyenko also said that Crimean Tatars should renounce their old practice of fighting for their rights with pickets and ultimatums and start a constructive dialogue with the authorities. He once again confirmed that Tykha Bukhta was a natural reserve and suggested that Crimean Tatars demanding to resettle there will receive land plots elsewhere. Tykha Bukhta has been a notorious hot spot of interethnic tension over land between ethnic Russians and Crimean Tatars for the past two years after the previous Crimean government failed to keep its promise to resettle Crimean Tatars there. (13 July 2005). Source: World News Connection
Crimean Aspects Website (Bakhchisaray)
Crimean Scientists on the Status of the Tikhaya Bay as Natural Reserve A Working Group, formed by the Verhovna Rada of Crimea to investigate the proposal for turning the Tikhaya Bay into a natural reserve, confirmed the Parliament's decision. The scientific Group was headed by A. Klyukin, Assistant Professor of Tavrida National University. In response, the Crimean Tatars say that in December 2001 the Koktebel County Council decided to allocate several dozens hectares of land in the Tikhaya Bay area to wine and cognac producer Koktebel for permanent and unrestricted use, and later allocated another piece of land to the local Cossack community. At that time, there was no mention of turning the land into a reserve. However, the campaign to declare the Bay a "reserve" was launched as soon as Crimean Tatars demanded their share of the land. (14 August 2005)
Pervaya Krymskaya (Simferopol)
The Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun arrived in Crimea in order to resolve the dispute over the Tykha Bukhta land ownership which erupted on 9 July near the Crimean resort village of Koktebel. Speaking on the crisis, Piskun said that he will ask Ukrainian President Yushchenko to sign a special decree regulating land relations in the autonomy. He also promised that the Ukrainian government will revise Tykha Bukhta's nature reserve status which bans Crimean Tatars from resettling in the area. Mustafa Jemilev, the head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, said the crisis had its origin in the early 1990s when Crimean Tatars returning from forced exile were banned from resettling on the Crimea's south coast, an expensive resort area. He also warned that Crimean Tatars will retaliate against any use force. Unidentified experts were quoted as saying that the crisis will result in an interethnic conflict no matter what steps the authorities take. (22 July 2005). Source: World News Connection
Pervaya Krymskaya (Simferopol)
Anatoliy Matviyenko announced that the Crimean government will not allow Crimean Tatars to resettle on the Crimea's southern coast, an expensive resort area, because there are no free land plots. Before their deportation on Stalin's orders in 1944, over 70 per cent of all Crimean Tatars lived on the southern coast. When the Crimean Tatars started to return to their homeland, the Crimean government prohibited them from settling in Crimean resorts. Now, as the price of coastal land there has reached two million dollars a hectare, Crimean Tatars stand practically no chance of regaining their land. Matviyenko dismissed Crimean Tatar protests over the "unfair" distribution of land, saying that the Tatars are demanding expensive coastal land in order to resell it for a profit. (29 July 2005). Source: World News Connection
A special meeting of the Ukrainian cabinet held in Simferopol on 30 July ended in an argument over the Crimean Tatar resettlement problem. Ukrainian Transport Minister Yevhen Chervonenko said that before the Crimean Tatars' rights are restored, the property of the Jews in the centre of Kiev should be given back first. He accused Crimean Tatars of "capitalizing on their plight." The sharp response was in reaction to the $20 billion government plan to develop the Crimean coastline presented by the Crimean Prime Minister Anatoliy Matviyenko. Ethnic Crimean Tatar MPs Refat Chubarov and Lentun Bezaziyev were critical of the plan, saying it violated the rights and interests of people who were deported from the coastline regions in 1944. Chubarov said that the program would prevent Crimean Tatars from returning to their homeland, thus causing mass Crimean Tatar protests and interethnic conflicts. Although the Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko promised to study the problem, Chervonenko accused Crimean Tatars of wanting to resettle in the expensive coastline areas. The Tatars should be given money and resettled elsewhere in Ukraine and not interfere with the government plans, Chervonenko said, shouting. (5 August 2005, p.1, 2). Source: World News Connection
Golos Kryma (Simferopol)
In response to a Crimean Tatar initiative group, demanding that living conditions in Crimean Tatar settlements be improved, Anatoliy Matviyenko said that Crimean Tatars are themselves to blame for their problems as they resettled on the peninsula without permission. He also added that the Tatars want to deplete Crimea's dwindling natural resources in addition to all the land grabs they have carried out. Matviyenko should be reminded that in the 1990s, when Crimean Tatars started returning from places of exile, they were banned from resettling in Crimean towns and forced to settle in areas without running water. But they did not claim for their property lost during the deportation and decided not to do so in order to maintain peace on the peninsula. (19 August 2005, p.3). Source: World News Connection
Two New Schools Planned in Crimea
Crimean Aspects Website (Bakhchisaray)
In 2005, two new schools are planned in Crimea, offering instruction in Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian. The Crimean Premier Anatoliy Matviyenko announced that two schools will be opened in the Simferopol suburbs - the Crimean Tatar school in Kamenka and the Ukrainian school in the village of Komsomolskoe. The total number of Crimean Tatar schools in the Autonomous Republic will be fifteen, and the Ukrainian schools six. According to the Ministry of Education, there are more than 600 schools on the peninsula, all teaching in Russian. Matviyenko considers it necessary that all of 14 districts of Crimea have a Ukrainian school. "With the agreement of the local authorities, we will support an initiative in each district to establish a Ukrainian school," he said. (6 August 2005). Source: http://for-ua.com/
Krymskie Izvestiya (Simferopol)
A joint meeting of the permanent Commission on Science and Education of the Crimean Verhovnaya Rada and the Ministry of Education and Science was held in Simferopol on August 6. A. Glusman, Minister of Education and Science, confirmed that during the last school year there were 14 Crimean Tatar schools and six Ukrainian schools. Glusman also added that there will be at least 1 Ukrainian school in each city, town and village in Crimea. Glusman further noted that there are 131 universities in Crimea, including state and private institutions, and branches of other Ukrainian universities. (30 August 2005, p.3)
[On a related subject, a reliable source confirmed that about 30% of the students admitted to Crimean universities this year are Crimean Tatar. This is an encouraging rate because Crimean Tatars make up only 10-12 % of the population of Crimea. Ed.]
Head of Crimean Tatar Assembly to visit USA, UK and Turkey
Tatar-Inform News Agency (Kazan)
The chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Mustafa Jemilev, who is also a Ukrainian deputy, left for the USA where he plans to meet his compatriots and visit several international organizations. The main focus of these meetings will be the problems of the Crimean Tatars who are now returning to Crimea from the places of exile. Jemilev will also visit London and Istanbul, where he will meet with the representatives of Crimean Tatars as well. As is known, Turkey continues to carry out in Crimea a program that aims to buy 1,000 houses for Crimean Tatars, started by former Turkish President Suleyman Demirel. Additionally, a number of social and cultural projects to revive the language, art and culture of Crimean Tatars are implemented under the direction of the Turkish International Development Cooperation Agency [TICA], which has been working in Crimea for 10 years. (12 August 2005)
News Digest Special Report
Crimean Tatars' Return to their Ancestral Homeland: Crimea in Statistics
Nearly fifteen years after the official disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the formation of independent Ukraine, the Crimean Tatars continue to encounter enormous obstacles in resettling in their native land. Common sense dictates that the unjustly deported indigenous people of Crimea, the Crimean Tatars, should be welcomed back and their resettlement in their native land with government assistance should be given top priority by local and national authorities.
Instead, the socio-economic problems of Crimean Tatars, who managed to return to Crimea with their own means, remain shamefully problematic. The current struggle in Tikhaya Bukhta, Koktebel, where Crimean Tatars are demanding land to resettle and the local government's refusal to accept these demands is a prime example of what the indigenous people are experiencing in their attempt to regain their human and national rights. We are not dealing with more than half of the Crimean Tatar population who are still unable to return to Crimea for political as well as economic reasons.
The statistics presented here are about the "lucky" ones who returned to Crimea. They were published in two parts in Yani Dunya (9 April 2005, p.3; 16 April 2005, p.4), a weekly Crimean Tatar newspaper, in an article titled "Surgun Olungan Kirimtatarlarinin Yerlestiriluvu - Rakamlarda" [The Resettlement of the Deported Crimean Tatars - Statistics] by M. Osmanova. The population and the status of Crimean Tatars in each region are indeed an eye opener for those who are interested in ethnic harmony in the Crimean peninsula. In this issue of the News Digest (Summer 2005), we are including only the total figures for Crimea in general. The entire set of statistics, region by region, is given in another document posted to the Web site of the International Committee for Crimea:
CRIMEAN AUTONOMOUS REPUBLIC
Briefly reviewing these statistics reminds us of the sad state of Crimean Tatars' return home from deported areas, mainly from Uzbekistan. The "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine means very little unless the government gets involved in a systematic return of the entire Crimean Tatar population from exile and helps them resettle there peacefully.
Mubeyyin Batu Altan
The following individuals assisted in the preparation of this issue of the News Digest: Alim Memetov (Bakhchisaray), Zarema Seydametova (Simferopol), Sezai Ozcelik (Eskisehir, Turkey), and Mubeyyin B. Altan (North Bethesda, Maryland). Edited by Inci Bowman (Washington, DC).
Posted: 9 September 2005