Crimean Tatars see Budapest Memorandum as key to recovery of their homeland

A heavily-protected Russian entry point into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea annexed by Russia in March 2014 (Image: Kommersant.ru)

A heavily-protected Russian entry point into the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea annexed by Russia in March 2014 (Image: Kommersant.ru) 

Crimea, International, Russian Aggression

Mustafa Dzhemilev, the leader of the Crimean Tatars, says that the goal of his nation is “the establishment of a platform for the return of Crimea on the basis of the Budapest Memorandum,” the 1994 accord under which Russia and the West agreed to guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity in exchange for its surrender of nuclear weapons.

Mustafa Dzhemilev

Mustafa Dzhemilev

The US, Great Britain, Canada and other countries following the 2014 Crimean Anschluss declared that Moscow was in violation of the memorandum, but Vladimir Putin replied that in fact, the Western powers were in breach by fomenting the Maidan, thereby sparking a revolution and creating a new state Moscow was not committed to support.

For the past four years, there the matter has stood; but Dzhemilev’s declaration, made to Ukrinform in Ankara suggests that the Crimean Tatars may now be ready to launch a new campaign to focus international attention on the 1994 accord, one that the West might now be ready to do more to compel compliance.

The Crimean Tatar leader lobbied for the passage of the UN resolution on the demilitarization of occupied Crimea on December 17 in large part because “there for the first time was a reference to the Budapest Memorandum.” It is “very important,” he says, that the UN specified that Russia’s militarization of Crimea is “a violation of the Budapest Memorandum.

“Our next goal,” Dzhemilyev says, “is the creation of a platform for the return of Crimea on the basis of the Budapest Memorandum. We will continue work in this direction.” While in Washington, he met with US congressmen who expressed their support for this effort. Moscow will oppose it, but its opposition “is not that important.”

More than once, the Crimean Tatar leader says, when speaking with Western leaders, he has said that if the West had treated the Russian occupation of Georgian territory as an occupation, “the occupation of Crimea would not have happened.” But unfortunately, Western governments did not do so.

And then he adds: “I do not exclude that the peninsula can be de-occupied at the price of the disintegration of Russia. The stupidities Putin is acting upon could lead to that.”

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Edited by: A. N.

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