Jul 24, 2012

Crimean Tatars: Fourth Qurultay Session Took Place

Report was delivered by the Chairman of Mejlis Mustafa Jemilev at the 4th Session of Qurultay. Agenda included changes to the election of the delegates, changes to the national anthem and the coming Parliamentary election in Ukraine. 

Below is an article published by Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People:

The main decisions to be made at this session of Qurultay are the changes to the Regulations on the election of the delegates of Qurultay, changes to the national anthem of the Crimean Tatar people and the coming Parliamentary election in Ukraine. Correspondingly, my report will mainly touch these issues.

This year is the 21st anniversary of the fist session of the representative body of Crimean Tatars – Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar people, revived after 74 years of governance of the Communist regime in our land. During these years we held 12 sessions of Qurultay. Today’s session is the 13th. At these sessions we made the decisions on the most important and sensitive issues for our people and elected the members of our Mejlis.

Life showed that the revival of the democratic system of the national self-governance was one of the most correct and timely decisions, made by our people for the past two decades. During the difficult and hard years of the mass return of our people to its homeland this system helped us to some extent to protect its basic rights, to solve some problems of our nationals and to unite our people even more, and what is more important, to prevent quite possible large-scale interethnic conflicts, that unfortunately many other regions on the post Soviet territory failed to escape.

Maybe, one could say a lot about the imperfections of Mejlis’ activity and its regional structures, about the unfairness of these or those members, elected to the central and local mejlises. However, there is no doubt that in case we had failed to create this system our people would have much more problems today, and much lesser level of the national unity.

According to the data of the social surveys for the last year, in particular, the Center of Rozumkov, the level of people’s trust to its Mejlis comprised about 82%. The survey that was made about 10 years ago showed that this level comprised about 70%. That is why the statements of some political experts about the allegedly reduced authority of Mejlis among Crimean Tatars is nothing more than the attempt to pass the desirable for reality.

However, Mejlis had no any outstanding achievements that would justify such high level of people’s trust and the main secret of people’s high support of their representative body is in its high level of democracy. In other words, the majority of people worked out a very right understanding of the fact that the efficiency of the activity of the bodies of the local self-governance and the question: who will be in these bodies depends on them, because they elect these people to mejlises themselves. I think that there will be no crisis of trust in their representative body, in case there won’t be violation of the principles of the democracy and utmost openness during the elections of the members of mejlises at all levels.

Since 1991, from the moment of the foundation of the system of the national self-governance of Crimean Tatars, we elected the delegates of the National Convention (Qurultay) in accordance with the two-level system, and the local mejlises – on the general meetings of our nationals locally.

The two-level election system of the delegates of Qurultay, as well as the elections of local mejlises at the general meetings have a range of their advantages, but also some imperfections. The main advantage is that one could ask questions and discuss these candidates at the conferences of the electors and meetings before making one’s choice. However, there is an opinion that such system gives some persons the possibility, to be more precise, Mejlis to elect the delegates and members of local mejlises on its own consideration. I’m not going to dispute this statement, because if some our nationals think so one should take this into consideration. Nevertheless, even if this opinion is absolutely true, we had no other ways, especially in the first years. We had neither financial, nor organizational possibilities.

In 2009 after long discussions at Mejlis’ meetings the decision was made to change the way of the election of local mejlises and the delegates of Qurultay. Today re-elections to local mejlises were held almost all around Crimea, excluding Sevastopol. 294 mejlises were elected with general number of members - 2095. One could say that the elections had success everywhere. The average activity of our nationals in Crimea comprised more than 55%.

At today’s session of Qurultay we have to make the corresponding amendments to the Regulations on the election of the delegates of Qurultay in order to hold the election of the delegates of the next composition of the 6th Qurultay in compliance with the new system. Maybe, we will make some amendments to the ration of the number of the delegates of Qurultay, elected with the proportional system, that is, from the public organizations and the majoritarian system. There is quite wide spectrum of opinions among the members of Mejlis and our nationals in general, concerning this issue. Some think that all the delegates should be elected only in accordancewith the system of the proportionalrepresentation, others – only through the majoritarian one, third – equally, forth – want to preserve the existing ration, that is 50 delegates from the public organizations and the rest 200 with the majoritarian system.

I prefer to preserve the existing ratio or to increase a little the number of delegates, elected from Crimean Tatar public and political organizations, up to 75.

The second question that provoked a raging and sharp discussion last month was Crimean Tatar national anthem.

It’s a common knowledge that on June 30, 1991 the first session of the 2nd Qurultay adopted the Decision on the Crimean Tatar national anthem, saying that the text of the anthem have to be the words of the first Head of the Crimean Tatar representative body and poet Numan Chelebidzhikhan “Ant Etkenmen” (I've Swore).

Indeed, in general this poem is very suitable for the national anthem, because it reflects the nation’s condition and readiness to fight for its bright future until the very end. However, this poem that was published first in 1917 in the newspaper “Millet” wasn’t written by Numan Chelebidzhikhan as an anthem. That is why there are words in this poem that reflect his own spiritual condition, his reflections about the perishable nature of all earthy, that all people are mortal and that even if you are a ruler the time will come and the grave diggers will come to burry you. Undoubtedly, these reflections are indisputable, but they are not appropriate for the national anthems. That is why the question of the amendments to the text of the anthem was always sensitive among our writers, in particular. Indisputably, the amendment to the text of the anthem is a political decision that could be made only by Qurultay. Our poets made their own proposition. They made some amendments to the text of the anthem. They made record of the orchestral variant of it and everyone could hear it at the mourning meeting this year. This arouses the wide dispute especially among our diaspora, because they knew well that Qurultay made no decision on the amendments to the text of the anthem.

Thus, the delegates of Qurultay have to decide on the new text, proposed by our poets and to make their decision. In other words, they have to make their mind whether we accept the text proposed or not. In case the new text of the anthem won’t be adopted, the decision could be made to declare the competition for the better variant of an anthem. But, in this case the final decision on the anthem could be made only at the next session of Qurultay after the results of the competition. Before this the text adopted in 1991 should be used.

The last, but not the least issue the present session of Qurultay has to decide on is our participation in the coming Parliamentary election in Ukraine on October 28, 2012.

However, before proceeding to the coming election I’d like to say few words about the results of the all-Ukrainian elections to the local bodies of the self-governance, held in October 2010, because Qurultay will have to make one decision on their results as well.

The main peculiarity of the election in October 2010 was perhaps the least activity of voters, both in Ukraine and Crimea. All in all only 47,9 % of voters took part in the elections. The activity of the Crimean Tatar voters was traditionally a little higher, but not much, just 2-3 %. The considerable work was done to disperse the votes of Crimean Tatars. The political groups among Crimean Tatars whose main task was to oppose all decisions of Mejlis and Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar people were nominated mainly by the Ukrainian Rural Democratic and Socialistic parties. Correspondingly, they carried out the fierce propaganda campaign against Mejlis and National Rukh of Ukraine whose lists included our nationals that were nominated in accordance with the decisions of Qurultay to the members of the VR ARC, regional and town councils in Crimea.

Of course, these groups failed to overcome the 3% barrier to be elected to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, but it seems like they didn’t have such task. Their main task was to cause at least some damage to Mejlis and try to reduce the number of Crimean Tatar MPs. One should admit that they could succeed in this to some extent. For example, Ilmi Umerov who was nominated to the MPs of the Verkhovna Rada of ARC in the majoritarian district #29 received 5494 votes and he lacked only 127 votes. However, more two Crimean Tatars that also were nominated in this district Kamilev Reshat and Lumanov Enver took 400 and 301 correspondingly. As a result the candidate from the Party of Regions D.Rogachev who took 5619 votes became the MP of the VR ARC.

All in all 123 members of the town and regional councils were elected in the elections 2010 that comprised 9,2 % of the members at this level in the autonomy, and 870 members of village and settlement councils that comprised 16% of all Mps at this level in Crimea. Only 5 MPs could be elected to the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea (5 %). More two Crimean Tatars were elected to the VR ARC mainly due to the votes of Russian speaking citizens, with the support of the Party of Regions.

The main reason of the failure to elect more members - Crimean Tatars to the regional and town councils, as well as to the VR ARC than the ratio of Crimean Tatars in the population of Crimea is that the elections were held in accordance with the mixed system. The prospects of the election of Crimean Tatars in the majoritarian districts are much lower. Nevertheless, the general number of Crimean Tatar MPs could be higher if there weren’t such representatives of our people, working to split our electorate.

Unfortunately, there were also some members of local mejlises and even 7 delegates of Qurultay among these dissenters. If concerning our ordinary nationals we could say that it is their own business, in cases when the members of our system of the national self-governance act this way - the reaction should be a little different, because their actions violate the Regulations of Qurultay.

Almost all members of local mejlises whose actions during the past elections violated the decisions of Qurultay were not reelected to new mejlises during the elections in accordance with the new system. As far as the delegates of Qurultay concerns, the session of Qurultay will make the decisions about them in compliance with our Regulations. In other words we need to vote for their exclusion from the delegates of Qurultay.

The results of the coming Parliamentary election in October this year will undoubtedly have great significance both for the country in the whole and our people. Moreover, this would to some extent an indicator of the level of the unity of our people. Taking part in these elections we also have chance to ensure the presence of one or two our representatives in the supreme legislative body of our country.

Thus, at this session of Qurultay we have to decide, first about the political force we should unite with in this election, in other words, which all-Ukrainian political party we will recommend our nationals to give their votes for under the proportional elective system. Second, what candidate to the MPs of Ukraine we support in 10 electoral districts in Crimea and will we nominate our own candidates in these districts, if yes then who. Third, if the agreement will be reached with any political party about the inclusion of our candidates to supposedly guaranteed part of their electoral list under the proportional system, whom we nominate.

We have informed via Mass Media what and who we talked with. Moreover, R.Chubarov will make the detailed report on the Parliamentary election in Ukraine.

As far as me concerns, I would like to draw your attention to one significant circumstance, related to the election. There is no doubt that the activity of Mejlis will be more productive and efficient if its Head will be the MP of Ukraine at the same time. At least, following from the reason that he could meet and discuss any questions with any officials of our country.

At the session of Qurultay in 2009 we agreed that we must elect new Head of Mejlis. This question is undisputable, but there were and are various opinions only about the date that is more appropriate for this. We discussed this question at one of the last meetings of Mejlis and the majority came to the opinion that the new composition of Qurultay has to elect new Head of Mejlis, that will be elected in autumn this year after the Parliamentary election. I think that it is not right, because we have to nominate the new Head of Mejlis to the candidates of the MPs of Ukraine. That is why I ask Qurultay to include the issue of the reelection of the Chairman of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people into the agenda.

I wish the delegates of Qurultay the fruitful work and hope that our people would benefit from the decisions we will make.