Managing diversity in plural societies: Report on Ukraine

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Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 19:34:04 -0800
From: MINELRES moderator <>
Subject: Managing diversity in plural societies: Report on Ukraine

From: MINELRES moderator   <>

Original sender: John Jaworsky  <>

Managing diversity in plural societies: Report on Ukraine

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Executive Summary

In May 1997 a team of Canadian scholars and officials visited Ukraine
to conduct seminars (in the capital, Kyiv [Kiev], and in Crimea)
the framework of a broader project entitled "Managing Diversity in
Plural Societies".  The general aims of this project are as follows.

1)  To promote Canadian values of inter-cultural understanding and
respect for human/minority rights in regions of actual/potential
or conflict, especially where there is a clear interest in outside
in understanding and managing the challenges posed by politicized

2)  To strengthen regional security in Central/Eastern Europe by
examining some of the root causes of local political instability and
proposing measures to improve conflict management capabilities.

To date there have been only isolated cases of inter-ethnic conflict
Ukraine, and Ukraines record concerning the treatment of minorities
has generally been assessed favourably.  However, the relative calm
which has characterized inter-ethnic relations in Ukraine is largely
to the political passivity of Ukraines population, the absence of
demagogic leaders eager to take advantage of ethnic tensions, and the
ambiguity of government policy in certain sensitive policy areas.  A
shaky status quo has been maintained among Ukraines ethnic
communities, but this is because the government has avoided clearly
defining government policies on certain controversial issues and has
half-heartedly implemented other policies (e.g., on language use, on
punishing those responsible for the production and distribution of
xenophobic literature, etc.).

As these policies are gradually clarified and implemented more
the potential for conflict will increase rather than decrease in
Ukraine, a
country of very great  geopolitical importance.  Since Ukraines
government officials and community leaders lack many of the skills
to cope with the challenges related to ethnic diversity, the Kyiv
played a useful role by promoting a frank exchange of views on painful

issues and encouraging in-depth discussions of the application of
conflict management strategies in a Ukrainian setting.

The Kyiv seminar focussed on topics such as language and migration
issues, managing ethnic/regional differences, and the status of
peoples, which have provoked heated debate in Canada and were of great

interest to the Ukrainian audience.  The seminar succeeded in
achieving its
major goals: to provide the Ukrainian audience with insights into the
policies and practices which have helped to ensure relatively stable
inter-ethnic relations in Canada and other liberal-democratic states;
to promote a productive dialogue among the representatives of groups
institutions which rarely have an opportunity to meet and interact in
non-conflictual setting.

The Canadian teams activities in Crimea differed substantially from
in Kyiv.  The main purpose of the Crimean programme was to allow the
members of this team to become fully acquainted with the distinctive
situation in this region, so that they could then suggest ways in
governmental and non-governmental organizations in Canada could
expertise and assistance to deal with some of the problems faced by

All assessments of developments in Crimea agree that this region
remains one of the most significant "hot spots" of potential conflict
only within Ukraine, but in the entire Black Sea region because of the

distinctive ethnic composition of Crimeas population, and continuing
separatist demands in Crimea which are supported by some nationalist
circles in Moscow.  Recent developments in Ukrainian-Russian relations

have helped reduce some of the tensions in Crimea.  However, Russia
has succeeded in maintaining a strong naval presence in the port of
Sevastopol, and the strategic location of this city provides Russia
a convenient means of influencing developments throughout the entire
Black Sea region.

Russia is determined to maintain its presence in Crimea because it
regards the Black Sea region as part of its sphere of influence, and
because of the large volumes of oil and gas, from Azerbaijan and
Asia, which will be transported across, under, or around the Black
Since nationalist rhetoric from Moscow will continue to fuel
tendencies in Crimea, it will remain a troubled area for several years
come, and it is essential that initiatives be taken quickly to help
peace and stability in this peninsula. To date Canada has not devoted
much attention to Crimea.  However, the members of the Canadian team
feel that even modest Canadian initiatives in this region could bring
considerable long-term benefits.

The Canadian team took a special interest in the plight of the Crimean

Tatars, who were deported en masse from their homeland in 1944 and
have only recently begun to return to Crimea, where they currently
comprise ten percent of the population.  Given their vulnerable status
recent returnees who have encountered considerable discrimination the
Crimean Tatars, with little economic clout, are the greatest victims
of the
stagnant and heavily criminalized socio-economic situation in Crimea.
addition, the Crimean Tatars have ended up as pawns in a political
tug-of-war between the central Ukrainian authorities and the local
authorities in Crimea.

Because of the high level of cohesion and discipline within the
Tatar community and the moderate stance of its leaders, to date its
grievances have generally been expressed in a peaceful fashion.
the community has already demonstrated that when provoked, it can
easily mobilize its membership to engage in mass protests.  In
the continuing discrimination faced by this community has led to the
radicalization of part of its membership.  Thus the continued
of ethnic "peace" in Crimea will largely depend on the treatment of
Crimean Tatar community, and internal dynamics within this community.

Summary of recommendations:

1.  Canadian governmental and non-governmental organizations should
devote more attention to Crimea when projects involving Ukraine are
planned or implemented.  Special efforts should be made to ensure that

such projects address the needs of all communities in Crimea,
the Crimean Tatars.

2.  Representatives of Canadas Department of Foreign Affairs and
International Trade should stress, when interacting with senior
officials in Ukraine and Uzbekistan (as well as other states in which
Crimean Tatars currently reside), that Canada strongly supports the
naturalization of the Crimean Tatar population currently residing in
and condemns all artificial barriers which impede this naturalization

3.  Canadian governmental and non-governmental organizations should
strongly support the emergence in Crimea of financial structures, such
credit unions, which encourage local economic development and foster

4.  Canadian governmental and non-governmental organizations should
support initiatives aimed at developing the potential of
tourism in the Crimean peninsula.  Support for small-scale projects
encouraging "heritage" tourism, eco-tourism, and the emergence of
family-run "bed-and-breakfast" operations is of particular importance.

5. Canadian governmental and non-governmental organizations should
support cultural development and cultural preservation projects in
Crimea, especially in the case of the formerly deported groups, such
as the Crimean Tatars, which have demonstrated a strong attachment
to their cultural heritage and are trying to revive it, after several
of persecution, in very difficult circumstances.

6. Canadian governmental and non-governmental organizations should
support projects aimed at promoting inter-ethnic dialogue and
inter-cultural understanding in Crimea, and combatting the vicious
ethnocultural stereotypes which are widespread in this region.

7. Canadian governmental and non-governmental organizations should
support projects aimed at ending Crimeas relative isolation and
increasing its contacts with the outside world.

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