Re: The Makhuladyur project


To: MINELRES list submissions <minelres-l@riga.lv>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 09:45:42 -0800
From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>
Subject: Re: The Makhuladyur project

From: MINELRES moderator  <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: Magda Opalski  <magdao@istar.ca>

Re: The Makhuldyur project


Commenting on the Makhuladyur Ivan Jaworsky observes
that the Crimean Tatars have a strong tradition of  self-help.
Well-developed communal institutions and a large pool of
bright, energetic and well-educated individuals, he argues,
should encourage foreign support for initiatives such as
the Makhuldyur Project. Perhaps more importantly, these
factors should help the Crimean Tatars overcome their relative
isolation.

The list of reasons why Crimean Tatars deserve support from
institutions promoting stability and democratization in Ukraine
is much longer. It includes the high degree of social discipline of
the Crimean Tatars, their respect for their democratically-elected
leadership, religious tolerance and a long-standing commitment to
non-violent forms of political action. These are rare qualities in an
environment suffering from economic depression where civility
is in short supply. However, unless fundamental legal barriers
to their integration are removed, no amount of self help will
lead to significant improvements, in the short term, in the
disastrous situation in which the Crimean Tatars currently find
themselves.

One crucial issue is citizenship. Ukraine is reluctant to extend
citizenship to an estimated 100,000 (40%) of Crimean Tatars, excluding
them from the benefits of privatization and limiting their
freedom of movement. Deprived of voting rights, non-citizens will
not participate in the upcoming elections in Ukraine. The issue of Tatar
political representation and official recognition of their democratically-
elected self-government is also unresolved and shrouded in
uncertainty. This weakens this group's ability to fight the
anti-Tatar policies of the Crimean government and anti-Tatar
biases in Crimean society at large. Ukraine's handling of
the Tatars, the only significant pro-Kyiv political force in Crimea, is
ambivalent. Most recently, a mandatory exchange of Ukrainian passports
(the second since independence) inflicted another blow to the freedom
of movement of the Crimean Tatars, deepening rather than reducing their
isolation. Few of the Crimean Tatars who are eligible for passports can
afford to pay the 100 dollars US which are required for this document
because of the very high levels of unemployment within this community,
and the way in which their life savings were wiped out by hyper-inflation
in the early 1990s.

Finally, foreign aid tends to bypass Crimea and the Crimean
Tatars. Canadian assistance programs to Ukraine (by far the
largest recipient of Canadian foreign aid) within the CIS and
Eastern Europe is a case in point. Heavily bureaucratized programs
run by international organizations have flooded Crimea with
western conflict solvers and conflict solving seminars but have
done little to address the specific needs of the Tatar community.
There is no doubt that directing some of this conference money
to the Mukhuldyur Project would better serve the cause of
stability and social peace in Crimea.

Dr. Magda Opalski
Institute of Central/East European and Russian-Area Studies
Carleton University
Ontario, Canada
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