Buffer zone between Ukraine and Russia

Second World Crimea Tatar Congress is carried out in Ankara with the participation of 180 Crimean Tatar civil society organizations from 12 countries and some politicians.

The congress lasted for two days, and it was emphasized that Russia was an occupant in Crimea; also it was stated that the territorial integrity of Ukraine should be defended. The speech of Mustafa Abdulcemil Kırımoglu, the former President of Crimea Tatar National Assembly (CTNA) and Ukraine congressman, caught the attention. Kırımoglu mentioned that the Crimean Tatars will be settled to the Ukraine-Crimea border town Herson and a military unit under the name Muslim Battalion will be established, mostly consisting of Crimean Tatars. It is claimed that this military unit will be a strengthened version of Crimean Battalion which was established last year by Isa Akayev, consisting of thousand soldiers.


Some of the decisions in the Congress are as follows; the right of self determination for Crimea will belong to Crimean Tatars. The Russian occupation in Crimea will end. National, moral and cultural rights of Crimean Tatars will be protected. Necessary conditions will be met in order to have the Crimean Tatars in Diaspora to safely return Crimea. To put Russia on trial in international courts. Provide the safety of Crimean Tatars living in Crimea. To give monetary and moral support to the Crimean Tatars living in Crimea.


The former President of Crimea Tatar National Assembly (CTNA) and Ukraine congressman Mustafa Abdulcemil Kırımoglu has made an opening speech in the congress, and he mentioned about the annexation process of Crimea by Russia and the exile dated May 18, 1944. Then, he added that the Ukrainian government has approved the legal establishment of the military unit in order to protect the territorial integrity of Ukraine; which was named as Crimean Tatar Battalion, then changed as Crimean Battalion and that the new name will be Muslim Battalion. Kırımoğlu also added about the consisting parts of the military unit and where it will be used at: “Now, a decision is made for the establishment of a Muslim battalion. This battalion will depend on the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and will be located in Herson region at the Crimean border. Several Chechens, Ingush, Azeris, Uzbeks and people from other nations who live both inside and outside Ukraine have requested to take part in this battalion and to contribute for the protection of independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. This battalion can be used for the control of people and the loads at the border of annexed Crimea and mainland Ukraine, and to provide security and prevent all types of provocations on the peninsula after the rescue of Crimea.” More than 30 nationalist and voluntary Ukrainian battalions are used in the armed conflicts with the Russians who want autonomy at the east of Ukraine as the Ukrainian army is insufficient. The Crimean Battalion, or the Muslim Battalion is one of those battalions and it consists of warriors with ethnic origins from Crimean Tatar or Caucasia. Kırımoğlu said that the Crimean Tatars who have migrated from Crimea are planned to be settled at Ukrainian-Crimean border town Herson and added: “We think that it will be accurate to settle the Crimean Tatars to Herson region who were forced to leave their homelands and live in other parts of Ukraine”. Herson is geographically close to the conflict regions in the east of Ukraine, and according to Kırımoğlu, the settlement of Crimean Tatars into this region “will increase the existence of Ukraine in this region which is exposed to Russian propaganda”; and he also added that this will ease the Crimean Tatars’ return to their homeland. But, Ukraine made the entrance to Crimea almost impossible for those who do not hold a Ukrainian passport with a procedure lasting for 7 days.


Three names appeared for the Congress presidency. These were former President of CTNA and the Ukraine congressman Mustafa Abdulcemil Kırımoglu, CTNA President Rıfat Cubarov and CTNA Vice President Aslan Omer Kırımlı. Kırımoglu said he will not be a candidate, and mentioned that he will support Cubarov. Cubarov and Aslan Omer Kırımlı were the candidates and after the elections; Cubarov received 260 votes and elected as president for the second time, as Aslan Omer Kırımlı received 66 votes. On the other hand, Mustafa Abdulcemil Kırımoglu is declared as the honorary president of the congress. The first congress was held at the capitol of Crimea, Akmescit (Simferopol) in 2009 and Rifat Cubarov was elected as president then.


Crimean Tatars National Assembly Member Ali Hamzin has said in his statement last month that one of the Diaspora leaders in Turkey should be selected as President at Second World Crimean Tatar Congress. Hamzin has also stated that this idea appeared at the First World Crimean Tatar Congress in 2009, and he added that a decision was made to present Refat Cubarov as the candidate. And he suggested someone from the Diaspora in Turkey to be elected as the Second World Crimean Tatar Congress as Cubarov was very busy due to his duties such as being the President of CTNA and Ukrainian congressman. It was expected that either Zafer Karatay or Prof. Dr. Hakan Kırımlı, two prominent figures of the Diaspora in Turkey, would be the candidates for presidency in the congress. As Rıfat Cubarov resides in Ukraine and he is a congressman in there; and as both Hakan Kırımlı and Zafer Karatay reside in Turkey; a competition between Turkey and Ukraine was possible. If either Hakan Kırımlı or Zafer Karatay were elected as the president of the congress, this could be a good move which would strengthen Turkey in the Crimean policy. But it seems that Ukraine wants to keep Crimean Tatars National Assembly, Crimean Tatars National Congress and Ukrainian congressman Rifat Cubarov under its control. Also, if someone other than Rifat Cubarov would become the president of World Crimean Tatar Congress; it was considered that the Crimean Tatar national Assembly could weaken, which caused Cubarov to be the candidate. Consequently Cubarov was equipped with vast authorities as the President of CTNA and World Crimean Tatar Congress and as the Ukrainian congressman.


Some Crimean Tatar associations applied to participate in the Second World Crimean Tatar Congress, but they were rejected. Associations such as Istanbul Nogay Turks Association, Yaglıbayat Village Association, Crimean Culture and Education Association, Kocaeli Crimean Tatars Association, Crimean Tatars Associations Federation, Crimean Tatars Culture Associations Federation and some Crimean Tatar associations in Europe could not participate in the congress. This caused an argumentation among the Crimean Tatars. (Timuçin Mercanoğlu)