Crimean platform will be productive – Rustem Umerov

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Canan Kevser
20 January 2021, 20:00
Canan Kevser
20 January 2021, 20:00

Co-Chairman of Turkey-Ukraine Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group, Member of the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) Mr Rustem Umerov believes that the Crimean Platform, initiated to de-occupy Crimea, will be productive.

In his interview with the Crimean News (QHA) Rustem Umerov provided a thorough assessment of some of the critical political issues, including the Ukraine-Turkey & Ukraine-U.S. relations, Crimean Platform and the political prisoners issue. The interview was held at the Ukrainian Embassy in Ankara on January 19, 2021.

Mr Umerov noted that the members of the Friendship Group plan to pay a visit to Turkey in February and present features of the Crimean Platform.

"Currently, we are focusing on a few issues. Our political prisoners, sanctions, security issues in the Azov and Black Sea [regions]. We are still trying to fill in the content as we have just started these initiatives. But we know that it will be productive."

Rustem Umerov

Turkey should keep Black Sea strategy on the agenda

Mr Rustem Umerov underlined that Turkey has been standing with Ukraine side by side for 29 years with a consistent policy, and added that "On our part, we want Turkey to be a strategic partner on Black Sea security. Turkey has always supported Ukraine's territorial integrity. It even took an active role as a co-author in the relevant documents submitted to the United Nations."

The politician alleged that there is a big problem in the Black Sea region due to the occupation of Crimea.

"There is a big problem in the Black Sea. Today’s Crimea may become another region tomorrow. Therefore, Turkey needs to keep the Black Sea strategy on the agenda. On our part, we offer essential information in this regard. We make an effort to keep the Crimea and Ukraine issue up to date."

"We will be having high-level meetings this year as well. Ukraine-Turkey relations are about something more that the Crimean Tatar Turks issues, it is about a strategic partnership," he added.

The Crimean Tatar representative also stated that the current issue on the agenda is the Crimean Platform aimed at uniting international efforts to liberate Crimea from the Russian occupation. He detailed four dimensions of the platform: first is the highest political level with heads of states and governments; second is the level of heads of foreign policy departments and intergovernmental agencies; third is the inter-parliamentary level; and the fourth is the level of experts.

Members of the friendship group to visit Turkey

As Co-Chairman of Ukraine-Turkey Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group, Rustem Umerov stated that he discussed the Crimean Platform issue with his counterpart, Mr Tuğrul Türkeş, at their the last meeting a few months ago. "My Turkish counterpart has affirmed that he would support us in all aspects," he said.

Umerov noted that the members of Friendship Group plan to pay a visit to Turkey in February and present features of the Crimean Platform.

He mentioned Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would also attend the Crimean Platform Summit scheduled to held in Kyiv on August 23, 2021.

"Currently, we are focusing on a few issues; the first issue is our political prisoners, the second is the sanctions, and the third is the security issue in the Azov Sea and the Black Sea. We are still trying to fill in the content as we have just started these initiatives."

"We know that Crimean Platform will be productive."

Rustem Umerov

Political prisoners

MP Umerov also praised Turkey for supporting Ukraine in the negotiations on the release of Crimean Tatar political prisoners.

"We are grateful to the Republic of Turkey for helping us in negotiating the release of our political prisoners. Currently, we have more than 130 political prisoners. Over 200 children were left without a father since their fathers are in prisons. Certainly, we have introduced the issue to Turkey. We have asked to use of additional opportunities to ensure the release of political prisoners. Thankfully, Turkey backs us on that matter. I can not inform on the content, but Turkey is actively discussing this on the table [with Russia] and supporting us."

Housing project for IDPs

Rustem Umerov also touched upon the housing project for Crimean Tatar IDPs (internally displaced persons) had to leave Crimea due to Russian oppression. 

"We have previously discussed a formula with Turkey. We had procedural difficulties in finding the land. However, Mr Zelensky (Ukraine's president) has guaranteed to settle these problems as soon as possible. Therefore, the housing project depends on the land issue. We [parties] are consulting with our own governments about the details of where and how the apartments will be built," he explained.

Ukraine-US relations

Umerov also touched on Ukraine's expectations from incoming US President Joe Biden's administration regarding Crimea and stated that the US is a strategic partner of Ukraine.

Stressing that the US also supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine, he said there are no political problems between the two countries.

"We started negotiations on the political prisoners. Turkey already has an active role in this issue, but we are also demanding support from the US side."

Member of Ukrainian Parliament Umerov noted that there would be a meeting about the Crimean Platform in the US Congress in the next months. 

"We will make a visit [to the US] in February or March. There will be a meeting on the Crimean Platform at the [US] Congress. We are holding talks on the security of the Azov Sea and the Black Sea, and also about the reinforcing of the Ukrainian navy. Ukraine-US relations will continue steadily. I know that Ukraine is on the agenda," Rustem Umerov uttered.

Russia's withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies

Assessing Russia's decision to initiate the process of leaving the Treaty on Open Skies, Umerov said one should analyse the backside of Russia's decisions. 

"Russia is not always doing what it announces. We have to comprehend this well. If it does what it has mentioned, this means it plans another thing from the behind. Therefore, we need to analyse these reverse-sides well. What will it demand? Because when it offers something, it wants ten things in return." 

Treaty of Open Skies

The Treaty on Open Skies was signed on March 24, 1992, in Helsinki (Finland) by 27 CSCE member states (since 1995 – the OSCE) after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The treaty entered into force on January 1, 2002. Its members are currently 33 states: Belgium, Belarus, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Great Britain, Greece, Georgia, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Canada, Luxembourg, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Ukraine, France, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Croatia. 

The treaty aimed to prevent military tensions from escalating into war by allowing former Cold War adversaries to fly over each other’s territories using planes equipped with sophisticated sensors. While most modern-day military intelligence is gleaned through satellites, some information can only be gathered by airplane sensors. Most importantly, the treaty was a symbol of a determination to avoid war.

Crimean Platform

The Crimean Platform is a new consultative and coordination format initiated by Ukraine to improve the international response to the occupation of Crimea and growing security challenges.

The Platform aims to increase international pressure on Russia, prevent further human rights violations, protect victims of the occupation regime, and achieve the goal of de-occupation of Crimea and its return to Ukraine.

The Crimean Platform will operate at several levels: The first is the highest political level, which will be joined by foreign heads of state and government. The second is the level of heads of foreign policy departments and defence ministers; the third is the inter-parliamentary level; the fourth is the level of non-governmental experts.

The activities of the Crimean Platform will be officially launched at the inaugural summit which is planned to be held in Kyiv in August 23, 2021.