Early October this year the planned meeting of the Congress of Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) was held. It seems like this is an ordinary event. You know, FUEN’s Congresses have been held annually for already 60 years. As a rule, they are held in those regions of European states where we could see the density of the national minorities of a particular national state. For example in 2006 the Congress was held in Bautzen near Dresden where Sobres – German Slavs live from all eternity.
However, in 2009 the tradition to gather in places where the national minorities (or indigenous peoples) live, that was established many years ago, was ignored. The reason for this wasn’t only in the anniversary of FUEN – sixty years, that was celebrated with great pomp, but rather the other thing: someone made use of the anniversary. Who? And with what purpose? This is what I am going to tell you in details. But, first some history.
After the end of the World War Two the tormented Europe started reviving, gradually beating swords into ploughshares. Finally the global massacre sobered even the most wild militarists, proving that any peace is better that any triumphant war. Europe started changing people’s minds gaining understanding that every problem could, and must be solved without armed conflicts, not by a force, but through the negotiations and finding reasonable compromises. And one of the forms of the process of reorientation of people’s minds became the foundation of various international organizations that in practice implemented the peaceful solution of the international conflicts. The Federal Union of European Nationalities established on this tide in 1949 started dealing directly with one of the most difficult European problems – the problem of cohabitation of the titular ethnic group of the state with national minorities and indigenous peoples of this state, at this adding to one's armory only the peaceful problem-solving means. First, the thing was about German expatriates' communities that existed almost in every major European states. However, later on the attention was also given to other national minorities.
Unfortunately, yet Europe was divided into two parts – Western and Eastern that ideologically confronted with each other, all these changes took place only in Western European countries. However, in 1991 the communist Soviet Union stopped its existence and West European international organizations started penetrating into the countries of the former militaristic communist empire. Already in 1992 FUEN proposed Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People to join to this international organization (first, on the right of a corresponding member, later on as an associate member, and then as a full member). Except Crimean Tatars who were subjected to repressions during the war, this invitation accepted Soviet Germans, Meskhetian Turks, Balkars, Karachai, and some other peoples of European part of the former Soviet Union whose rights were violated. The authority and significance of FUEN rose after this representative infusion, because the problems that came in focus of this international organization became much more complicated. However, first, Western Europe couldn’t influence the CIS countries because of the absence of effective leverage. However, later on this leverage appeared.
One of such means if influence became the desire of the independent states of the former communist empire to become the members of European community. The Baltic States solved this task quicker then others. Their only headache were Russian people who suddenly appeared in minority there. To Balts’ joy this judicial minority in fact was minority as well. That is why the national issue in these Baltic States was solved by means of compromises quite soon: if you don’t want to recognize the state structure and the orders of the new national state – no one retain you here, you can leave the country. Being in quantitative minority Russian population got adapted very quickly to the situation and refused of the idea of Great Russian chauvinism, making the reasonable decision to stay in the Baltic States outside Russia. The rigid chauvinists numbering few people returned to Russia.
There where the number of Russian chauvinists was too big the problem of integration into European community turned into an unsolvable task. As a result, Moldova was split into two parts long ago, and Ukraine is on its way to this.
The ethno-political situation in Crimean province of Ukraine is even more complicated. Here the confrontation between Russians and Ukrainians was also amplified by the return of Crimean Tatars. Though, the last in quantitative ration represent only 12 per cent of the population (Russians – 65%, Ukrainians – a little more than 20%), but very Crimean Tatars didn’t let Russians to make Crimea the part of Russia at due time or make it independent from Ukraine like Transnistria in Moldova.
Crimean Tatars are more organized and united nation. Juristically this is not a national minority, but indigenous people. And this awareness gives the people power. Russians are juristically national minority in Crimea. However, in Crimea their number exceeds even Ukrainians. This very fact creates the main ethnic problem in the region.
However, this problem is not unsolvable one. The Gordian knot could be cut … if Crimea was returned its status of national Crimean Tatar autonomy, which it already had, by the way, at the beginning of the 20th century after the collapse of Russian Tsarist Empire. By this act of the Ukrainian Government Ukraine first, would secure oneself from Russia’s infringement on Crimea, bending on its part the indigenous people of Crimea, whose problems are also the point of interest of European community, second, it would neutralize Russian national minority having claims on dominance in Crimea (thus, averting a blow from itself and directing it to Crimean Tatars); third, this legal act would clear Ukraine way to European Union that doesn’t accept countries with unsolved ethnic problems, such as, for example, Turkey. You know, Ukraine urges to enter European Union so much. Giving Crimean Tatars the national autonomy, Ukraine with a dash of the pen at the same time would restore the rights of illegally repressed people, that Crimean Tatars demand for for many years, seeking support of European Union via FUEN. That is why Ukraine sooner or later would have to meet Crimean Tatars’ interests. Otherwise the doors to European Union will be closed for it.
The permanent representatives of Eastern Europe made such conclusions when they saw and evaluated the attention that the Parliament of the European Union gave to the regular Congress of FUEN. Not only that it was proposed to hold the Congress of national minorities of Europe in the capital of new Europe – Brussels. On top of it, more than two hundred delegates were allowed to work in the best meeting rooms of European Parliament, equipped with the latest technology and the most qualified crew of translators, speaking all 23 official languages of the European Union. The delegates were even accommodated in five-star hotel that newer happened before for all my fifteen-year experience of participation in FUEN”s Congresses. In the past we usually lived in three-star hotels.
All this shows only one thing: the modern democratic Europe have firm intention to defend its democratic positions, and make it clear, through the international organization FUEN consisting of also representatives of the states that are not the members of European Union, that only the state that sacredly comply with all the democratic principles could become the member of this prestigious Union. Possibly, with this very goal the European Union decided to reorient mentality of Crimean population bringing to their live the elements of Western European way of live, investing to Crimean economy, ecology, and etc. since 2010. You know, Ukraine has firm intention to enter the European Union and it doesn’t hide it.
As far as my personal impressions received from the visit to the capital of Europe concerns, I could say that after the foundation of the European Union in 1999 Europe started changing significantly, literally on the eyes. I will give just few examples describing an everyday life of Europeans of Schengen zone.
The first thing that strikes the eyes of a foreigner when he comes down the airplane is the ethnic diversity of the crowd, the passenger pours in. Spending in Brussels few days I just asserted oneself in this opinion. I had the impression that the white people represented just a small part of city’s population. However, at this all these Africans and Asians are typical Europeans, having nothing in common with those Asians whom I met in Asian countries. Neither their appearance, nor their behavior and talk differ from typical Europeans. At this everyone speaks French, thought they understand other languages as well. Once I got lost in the city and without knowing a word in French I nevertheless quickly found my hotel all the time asking the colorful passersby who turned out to be very polite and amiable people.
To my disgrace I didn’t saw a single police man or at least traffic policeman whom I could ask for help. There aren’t any of them in Brussels! In their life people could do without them. For us former Soviet citizens this is unusual.
We also do not used to that tolerance between people that is apparent in every movement of people and in every their act. On our last day we ordered taxi to the front door of our hotel. When parking the taxi driver accidentally hit the parked car. The conflict was settled literally within five minutes. The driver filled in some paper and they parted without emotions. We were shocked: you know in our country such conflict can’t do without fighting or at least insults. Here they could settle the conflict even without the traffic policemen whom I’ve never saw during my entire business trip. It seems like it doesn’t exist in Belgium at all. And when we paid the driver, who by the way, was African, even returned us those two Euros that counted the counter during our forced standing during his filling in the forms. Such tempers they have in Europe.
As far as the interrelations between people in Crimea concerns, here even three nationalities couldn’t live peacefully – Ukrainians, Russians and Crimean Tatars. What could be said about the kaleidoscope of races and nations that gathered in post war Europe. Only Turks number 4 million in Germany. Germans do not cry: “what are you came for!” and do not arrange pogroms and knife-fight against guest workers that are so typical for Russians in Russia.
Thus, in conclusion I would like to say that: if Ukraine wants to become European state it must changed significantly. Change one’s way of life and mentality. And it must be done in this very succession – first, the way of live, then mentality. Because, it is known long ago - only being determines consciousness.
permanent representative of
Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People and
Crimean Karaites in FUEN,
President of Association of
Crimean Tatars in Moscow,