Sep 26, 2013

Crimean Tatars Discussed In European Parliament's Human Rights Committee

Brussels, 26 September 2013,

In today’s meeting, the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) addressed the situation of the Crimean Tatars. The head of the EEAS Eastern Partnership Division, Mr. Dirk Schuebel, briefed Parliament on the historical background of the Crimean Tatars and recent efforts aimed to resolve the problems facing them after returning to their homeland. Mr. Schuebel expanded on the outcomes of the roundtable talks, that were held in Simferopol on 19 September 2013. These talks were initiated by the Füle Commission in coordination with the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, and attended by the aforementioned parties alongside members of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and representatives from the Crimean Government.

The topics discussed in last week’s roundtable included: (1) the implementation of the International Forum for the Restoration of the Rights of the Crimean Tatar People; (2) creating a legal framework for the Crimean Tatars and other Formerly Deported Persons (FDPs) in Crimea; (3) the extension of the Bishkek Agreement, which, before expiring in May 2013, regulated multilateral relations among Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan regarding the return of the Crimean Tatars and other FDPs; and (4) the reestablishment of an Ukrainian government agency with the purpose of resolving issues facing the Crimean Tatars and other FDPs. Mr. Schuebel praised the efforts of Commissioner Füle and his team at DG Enlargement  for making the roundtable talks happen.

After briefing the European Parliament, Mr. Schuebel received questions from the parliament's Members. Ms. Inese Vaidere (Latvia- EPP) asked whether the aid given to Crimea by the EU has achieved anything concrete for the Crimean Tatars, and whether it wouldn't make more sense to invest in educational programmes that focus on language preservation, instead of on business and tourism projects. 

Ms. Emine Bozkurt, MEP (Netherlands- S&D) probed the likelihood that the International Forum for the Restoration of the Rights of the Crimean Tatar People will actually take place. She said that her contacts in the region are not overly optimistic that it will happen. However, Mr. Schuebel assured the committee that, in his opinion, such a conference will happen although the date has yet to be decided upon.