Simferopol (QHA) -

On the day of his 70th anniversary, the leader of Crimean Tatar people, ex-head of Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people, MP of Ukraine, dissident and human rights activist Mustafa Jemilev answered questions of QHA news agency.

-Mustafa aga, you’ve headed Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people for 22 years. How could you characterize this period of your life?

-As a rather complicated and tense. Although, I could say that I almost had no unstained and easy periods in my life. However, the last 22 years were probably less strained than those during the Soviet times, starting from the 60s, when I joined Crimean Tatar national movement. During those years my main concern was to ensure I could do something worthwhile and important until the next arrest; in prisons and labor camps the concern was to survive and maintain health without losing my dignity and deviating from my basic principles in life. After the collapse of the USSR the main concern was to ensure that our national movement sticks to principles of non-violence, while retaining our national and human dignity.

-Are there any unrealized ideas that you still would like to bring to life first of all?

-Of course there are many ideas and unrealized aspirations, but to be realistic, it should be admitted that in a relatively short space of time, a lot has been done already. There is a huge difference between the Soviet times, when Crimea was virtually a forbidden zone for Crimean Tatars and the current state of affairs. And most importantly, we have passed this distance without bloodshed, neither ours nor anyone else’s. In the history of mankind there are not so many examples of mass and conflict-free movements of people.

-You have left the post of head of Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people, but remained the irreplaceable and recognized leader of Crimean Tatars. Will your future work focus on the representation of Crimean Tatar people in the international arena?

-We have only one representative body that has power and authority to represent our people both inside the country and abroad, it is Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people. If Mejlis authorizes me to be its representative at say a symposium, forum or negotiations, of course, I can agree.

-Decisions to be taken at the upcoming summit in Vilnius on November 28 this year are important for the national movement. What are your predictions for the summit? What are you planning to say in your speech at the summit?

-Of course, we are very interested in Ukraine’s entering European community as in this case resolving of issue of restoration of rights of Crimean Tatar people will become easier and less conflicted. Signing the Association Agreement between Ukraine and EU would be the first and very important step in this direction. I will not attend the summit. There will be only the heads of EU countries and Ukraine. But the Seimas of Lithuania invited me to a forum called “Meeting of heads of committees on foreign affairs of Parliaments of the European Union and Parliament Forum for democracy”, which will be held in parallel with the Vilnius summit, but in Seimas of Lithuania. Besides me, from Ukraine they invited Vitality Klitschko and head of committee on foreign affairs of the Ukrainian Parliament V. Kalyuzhny.

At the meeting that we had with the Prime Minister of Lithuania Algirdas Butkyavichus 20 days ago, there was confidence that the Association Agreement will be signed. The Prime Minister said in a sense that they have no ‘plan B’ and they are set to sign the agreement as they hope that Ukraine will fulfill all EU conditions, including the release of Yulia Tymoshenko by the designated deadline. But since that has not happened yet, it is difficult to say what can happen at the summit in Vilnius on November 28. During the signing of the agreement, it was also assumed that EU representatives will voice the issue of restoration of rights of Crimean Tatar people.

Thus, now I have a dilemma as to what to say during my 10-minute speech at the Parliament of Lithuania. It’s one thing if the agreement is signed, and quite another thing if Ukraine is moved away from the process of integration into the European community. I will have to see on the situation. But clearly, the speech will raise the Crimean Tatar issue as well.

-What are your personal expectations as for the new Mejlis?

-I hope very much that Mejlis will continue to strengthen its positions as a plenipotentiary representative body of Crimean Tatars. I favor new Mejlis members elected during the last Kurultay as I see quite a lot of young and competent people there. This means we have a good succession of generations. I personally gave my voice to 26 out of 32 elected Mejlis members.

-Despite the fact that the problem of split in Kurultay is denied by both Chubarov’s and Ilyasov’s supporters, there is an opinion that Chubarov should make Ilyasov his first deputy. During Kurultay you’ve asked this question to both candidates. In your opinion, is this possible?

-My wish that the newly elected head of Mejlis takes his opponent as his first deputy is based on the fact that they both are very strong leaders. But both of them, even before the announcement of the election results at Kurultay rejected such proposal. Obviously they have divergent views on some issues. I do not see drama in that, and talking about a split on the basis of this fact would not be right. Remzi Ilyasov, as member of Mejlis will be in charge of a very responsible job; no antagonism between him and Chubarov is observed.

QHA