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ODIHR Conference, Warsaw, September 2019

On September 24, 2019, the Head of the Federation of Cultural Societies of Crimean Tatars of Turkey, Chairman of the Crimean Development Fund Unver SEL, Chairman of the International Association «Friends of Crimea» Jan Charnogursky and lawyer from Greece Yannis Rakhiotis took part in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on the human dimension, which is held every year in the capital of Poland, Warsaw.

They came to talk about Crimea, about the violation of Crimean rights by sanctions and the current situation of Crimean Tatars.

Please find below their speeches.

Hurting of human rights of Crimean people by sanctions of European Union and Ukraine.

Speech of Mr. Jan Carnogursky,

Chairman of the Slovak-Russian Society

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen

I will be speaking, how the sanctions of the European Union and of the Republic of Ukraine declared against Crimea hurt human rights of inhabitants of Crimea and break the International Covenant on Human Rights.

But first I would say another point. The European Union has sunk to a political unit of second degree. Just compare presentations of Mme Mogherini on one hand and of Mr. Lavrov, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Wang Yi on the other. One of the reasons of the declaim of the EU are the tensions between EU and Russian Federation. Russia has not declaimed so much as the EU by the sanctions. Sanctions started and were step by step strengthened after the Declaration of Independence of Crimea in March 2014 and later joining the RF. I am ready to discuss anywhere and with anybody the legality of the Declaration of Independence of Crimea. Now I wish to strengthen the point, that sanctions are not in the interest neither of Europe nor of RF and to the people of Crimea they hurt its human rights. Cancelling sanctions would help both Russia and EU.

Just shortly, I will mention most serious hurting of human rights. According to Part 1 Article 2 of International Covenant on social and cultural rights: All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law.

EU declared first sanctions against Crimea on 17th of March 2014. Ukraine decided various limitations on Crimea in the same time by decisions of constitutional bodies or just limitations that were caused by activities of unspecific groups of persons, Ukrainian constitutional bodies did not inhibit them, and their results did not remove.

In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence. Ukraine introduced the blockade of the supply of the fresh water to Crimea. By various technical measures led the fresh water sourcing on the territory of Ukraine but flowing to Crimea to another zones only not to come on territory of Crimea. In this way, Crimea lost ¾ of the fresh water. Lack of fresh water is causing losing of agricultural lands.

Blocking of supply of electricity. In November 2015, unspecified persons blowed up two poles for high voltage electricity in Cherson oblast. The result was the shortage of electricity for almost half of the inhabitants of Crimea, including hospitals, schools and other social and culturally important facilities.

In museums suffered hundreds of thousands of artifacts.

Railroads. The government of Ukraine drastically reduced rail roads linkage with Crimea. Moving of Crimean’s and their goods on the territory of Ukraine was minimized.

Blockade of internet, banking sphere and mobile telephones. On Crimea is not possible to use global credit cards, is not possible to phone by mobile phones with European operators, the opt cables for internet were cut. Crimea had to link everything by pertinent cables of the RF.

Arriving to Crimea. Foreigners arriving to Crimea need special permission of the Ukrainian migration service and they may arrive to Crimea only through special border´s crossings from Ukraine. Arrival to Crimea from Russia is forbidden and criminal.

Ladies and gentlemen, even if EU and Ukraine considers the secession of Crimea illegal, the human rights of ordinary peoples cannot be hurt. Let´s consider the difference in approach of the western countries to Crimea and to Kosovo. And in Kosovo wasn’t referendum, in Crimea was. Kosovo directly broke the resolution of the UN SC No. 1244, Crimea did not break anything except Secretary General of the Soviet Communist party Mr. Chrushchov donation of Crimea to Ukraine. French President M.Emmanuel Macron few weeks ago started considerations about malign nature of sanctions against Russia both for Russia and for Europe. We could go one step further. We could call for canceling sanctions.

I propose, this conference accepts the resolution:

ODHIR Conference in Warsaw calls on Russia, Ukraine, European Union to cancel the sanctions against each other.

Yiannis Rachiotis,

President of the Hellenic Ynion of Progressive Lawyers

OSCE Speech, Warsaw Sep24, 2019

Dear Mr. Moderator,

The association I represent, the Hellenic Union of Progressive Lawyers, has recently been informed of problems encountered by the members of the Greek minority in Crimea in exercising their right to move freely, to maintain the links they wish with their country of origin, Greece, to study their mother tongue and participate in the Greek cultural life.

The history of the Greek minority in Crimea began in the 8th century BC and has continued uninterrupted to this day. Today about 6 -7,000 people of Greek origin live in the Crimean peninsula, all of whom, as of 2014, have Russian citizenship.

The problem they are faced with is that recently became virtually impossible to travel to their country of origin because the Greek authorities refuse to issue them with even a tourist visa. They face the same problem with a few other EU countries, not a lot.

To be more specific, we are informed - about students of Greek origin, studying Greek language in Thessaloniki university who very recently – in 2019-were denied a visa to continue their studies, although the same persons used to receive visas in the past.

About university professors who were denied a visa to attend a seminar in Crete, as was a school group of folk dances.

This is because EU authorities do not recognize the results of the referendum that was conducted in Crimea in 2014, right after the toppling of the elected government in Ukraine, when a majority of over 85 % of the registered voters decided pro independence from the Ukraine and integration into Russia. The results did not come as a surprise in this 100% Russian-speaking region, which has a vast majority of Russian descent population.

After these developments in 2014 EU and US imposed sanctions against Russia , part of them is the guidelines for the EU member states to stop recognize and – consequently -issuing visa for passports issued in Crimea or for Crimean inhabitants. The guidelines are not compulsory because passport issue is still a national authority, but, about the half of the EU states, including Greece, obey them.

Thus, the Greek Consulates in Russia, from 2016 onwards, reject visa applications from Crimean inhabitants of Greek origin claiming that they haven’t territorial competence to issue a visa for them and ask them to apply for visa at the Greek consulates in Odessa or in Kiev. This makes it impossible for members of the Greek minority to obtain a visa because it is very dangerous for them to travel to the Ukraine. The Ukraine is not a safe country for people of Russian origin, especially for people who voted in favor of Crimea’s independence and integration into Russia.

It is hard to forget that more than 60 people were burnt alive in Odessa by the Ukrainian far right. At the end of the day, the EU through the passport guidelines, is punishing the Greek minority in Crimea because it doesn’t agree with their vote in them referendum. Of course, failure to respect the results of a referendum or an election is nothing unusual. Also double standards’ policies are not something uncommon. The West considers the referendum in Kosovo to be legal while considering the referendum in Crimea illegal. These things are not new in the geopolitical struggle, but in the case I am referring to, there is a serious impact in serious human rights of innocent people, who suffer the loss of their freedom of movement or the loss of their right to academic freedom and academic studies.

Finally, I believe that we have to ask a serious international player such as the EU and its member states who adopt the aforementioned guidelines, to stop using fundamental human rights as a collateral damage in geopolitical rivalries.

Unver Sel,

the Head of the Federation of Cultural Societies of Crimean Tatars of Turkey, Chairman of the Crimean Development Fund.

Honorable Chairs,


Distinguished Delegates,

Dear Guests,

On behalf of the whole Crimean Tatar community living in Crimea and Diaspora, I greet you all with respect.

The common history of our nation’s dates back to the migration of tribes that shaped today is Europe. We experienced wars, pains and joy all together. Therefore, the Crimean Tatar society is an integral part of the European family.

Without Crimea, the security and stability of Europe is unthinkable. Because Crimea means Rome, Genoese and Venice! Crimea means Golden Horde, Ottoman Empire and Tsarist Russia as well! We are proud of our great, deep-rooted and rich history.

We are aware that all the communities, beliefs and cultures of the Crimean Peninsula live peacefully and together for centuries. This is the greatest wealth of Crimea.

However, we are deeply saddened and embarrassed by the military battalions acting with the Nazi armies during the years when Wehrmacht invaded Crimea. Just as the German, the Polish, the French, the Ukrainian and the other European nations. In those days Crimean Tatar community, who had been sent into total exile, paid with their blood and life for what a small minority did. Our ancestors lived in exile in Central Asia for half a century away from their motherland. During this period, the inclusion of Crimea into the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine by the decision of the, then Soviet administration was a step taken within the administrative borders of a single country. This step, which was kind of a gift to the celebration of the anniversary of Ukraine’s accession to Russia, was thus purely formal. As the Great Prussian Marshall Clausewitz said, this is the work of people who are very easily excited and whose emotions flash like a straw flame.

Ladies and gentlemen,

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Crimean Tatars returned to their lands. Many attempts have been made with the Ukrainian government to restore their political, cultural and economic rights. However, these initiatives have been fruitless for a quarter of a century. In this process, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars was put in front of our society as a distraction tool, without any sanction power given to it by law.

27 years ago, in 1992, the constitution made a decision to expand the status of Crimea in Ukraine. As a result of this constitution adopted by the Ukrainian administration, almost all Crimean people tended to connect to Russia. However, this did not happen in the conjuncture that day.

As you may recall, the wave of fear, violence and terror initiated by pro-Nazi Ukrainians in 2014 surrounded Crimea. In these conditions, the people of Crimea, who wanted to protect the most basic human right, the right to life, they decided to reconnect to Russia by referendum. We believe that the entire democratic world should respect the common decision of the Crimean people. However, a brutal embargo targeting the fundamental rights of the Crimean people was introduced after the referendum.

Dear guests,

Now, I present it to your discretion : Is the Crimean Tatar community, especially those living in Crimea, meant to be punished for not cooperating with the Nazis ? It is imperative for European security and stability to end this injustice and to remove the embargoes imposed on Crimea.

We have made a decision with our free will based on the principle of “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” as the first article of the both “United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” and “United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”. We expect the entire civilized world to respect this decision.

Distinguished Delegates,

In the days following the reconnection of Crimea to Russia, the social, cultural and political rights of the Crimean Tatars which were not granted during the Ukrainian period given to us under the No: 268 Russian Presidency Executive Order. Also, Crimean Tatar language reinstated as the official language in Crimea. In the five years that have passed, important steps have been taken in relation to this decree and today our children have been granted the right to receive education in their own language. Crimean Tatars exist in social, cultural, economic and political fields.

In addition, a small minority who sucked the blood of our society, exploited their religious beliefs and tried to spread extremism, either fled Crimea and joined the Syrian jihad or took refuge in Ukraine. The partnership of these groups with the Nazi remains in Ukraine against the Crimean people is also a threat to European security. It would be an embarrassment for European history to excuse and even support them with such coverings as “human rights”.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We, as Crimean Tatars, are a small but proud and honorable nation. We are a society that believes in democratic institutions, education, women rights, respect of the environment and equal development. We take our culture of living in peace with others under the most challenging conditions from our centuries old past. In this past there is Rome, there is Golden Horde and there is the Ottoman Empire, there is the Soviet Union and there is Russia. However, there wasn’t, there isn’t and there will not be any kind of artificial belonging.

I invite all of you to think about this for the future of European security, and I extend my respect to your esteemed delegation on behalf of the Crimean Tatars in the Crimean Peninsula and around the world.


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