Auxiliary Forces Against Moscow (III)

BERLIN/KIEV | | ukraine

BERLIN/KIEV (Own report) - Despite its involvement in violent activities, Berlin is intensifying its cooperation with the Crimean Tartars' Mejlis. Just recently, Mejlis Chairman Refat Chubarov visited Germany's Ministry of Foreign Affairs for political consultations. The talks were obviously not hampered by the fact that last September, Chubarov had announced a blockade of Ukrainian trade with Crimea and that in October, he had explicitly praised the blockade's grave consequences on the Crimean population - the shortages and significant price increases for staple foods. The German foreign ministry does not feel compelled to distance itself from the Mejlis, even after their activists blew up electric pylons causing extensive interruptions in the electrical supply to Crimea. German ethnicist organizations had established good relations with Chubarov and his predecessor Mustafa Jemilev, already years ago, intensifying these since 2010 to fortify anti-Russian circles following Kiev's change of government. Even though quite controversial among the Crimean Tatars, this cooperation with the Mejlis milieu is closely coordinated with the USA, Turkey under Erdoğan and other NATO member countries. The concurrency of the cooperation with the Crimean Tatars and their occasional violent protests is reminiscent of developments in Ukraine in the spring of 2013.

Nobel Peace Prize Nomination

The official German relations with the Crimean Tatars' Mejlis can build on a basis that had been already established over the years with ethnicist organizations. For example the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV), which is promoting special rights of ethnically defined minorities around the world, has long been in contact with Mejlis. In 2005, it awarded Mustafa Jemilev, Mejlis' Chairman, at the time, the "Victor Gollancz Prize." Erika Steinbach (CDU), at the time, President of the German League of Expellees (BdV) held the laudation. The GfbV is not only engaged in public relations for the Crimean Tatars, it also helps Mejlis with contacts to the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the summer of 2009, GfbV participated in talks between a delegation of Tatars living in Germany and the foreign ministry. Subsequently, the relevant bodies in the foreign ministry promised to provide "advice in the search for German political and diplomatic partners."[1] The Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEV), headquartered in Flensburg and is in cooperation with Germany's Ministry of the Interior. Its members include ethnicist organizations from around Europe, in the Caucasus and Central Asia.[2] and has accepted the Mejlis as a member and promotes its interests. In 2011, it supported Mustafa Jemilev's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Jemilev was Mejlis' Chair at the time. He had repeatedly participated in FUEV's congresses.

In the Strategy Planning Center

After pro-western Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko lost elections in 2010, attempts were made to enhance German-Crimean Tatar contacts also at state level. This was part of the efforts to reinforce, on all levels, those promoting Ukraine's association with the EU. This was when the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation began supporting the UDAR Party of the future leader of the Majdan protests [3] Vitaly Klitschko, and when Berlin and Brussels were pushing for Ukraine to sign the EU Association Agreement. On June 28/29, 2011, the first "German-Crimean Tatar Dialogue" was convened in Berlin, co-organized by the GfbV. According to a report, the cooperation must ultimately "discuss the Crimean Tatar issue as part (…) of the rapprochement with EU structures."[4] During the "Dialogue", Mejlis Chair, at the time, Jemilev, his successor (since 2013) Refat Chubarov, and Mejlis' Head of External Relations, Ali Khamzin, held informal talks with German Bundestag parliamentarians and representatives of the German foreign and interior ministries. Within the framework of the third "German-Crimean Tatar Dialogue" on September 19, 2013, with Crimean Tatar politicians also in attendance, the Federal College for Security Studies in Berlin (BAKS) placed its rooms at their disposal for discussions of Crimean Tatar issues. BAKS serves as a strategy planning center for foreign and military policy.[5]

Exclusive Talks

Since Crimea's reintegration into Russia, German Crimean Tatar relations have rapidly intensified at the official level. However, German politicians and officials are only in contact with Mejlis and its sympathizers. Crimean Tatar forces rejecting Mejlis' pro-western and anti-Russian policy ( reported [6]), are being largely ignored by Berlin, Brussels and Washington. Already on April 10, 2014, Erika Steinbach, chair of the Human Rights Working Group of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, met in Berlin for talks with Mejlis' Head of External Relations, Ali Khamzin. Early July 2014, CSU parliamentarian Bernd Fabritius, who later succeeded Steinbach as BdV President [7], met with former Mejlis chair Jemilev in Strasbourg. During a brief visit to Ukraine on July 23/24, 2014, a delegation of the European People's Party (EPP), in which the German CDU and CSU hold strong positions, met with Crimean Tatar representatives. For March 17, 2015, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Brussels had announced an exclusive "Adenauer Forum" with former Mejlis Chair Jemilev - "participation by personal invitation only." On October 21, 2015, the Berlin headquarters of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation organized a panel discussion with Mejlis chair Chubarov with various representatives of Berlin's foreign policy establishment participating.

Anti-Russian Interests

Simultaneously, the Crimean Tatars have strengthened their relations with other EU and NATO countries. In April 2014, immediately following Crimea's reintegration into Russia, former Mejlis Chair, Jemilev, flew to Washington for political consultations, where he also met on April 4 with Wendy Sherman, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in the State Department.[8] In late September 2015, Mejlis Chair, Chubarov, also flew to the US capital for political consultations. In December 2015, Jemilev and Chubarov met in Ankara with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. This meeting was of particular importance, because Turkey sees itself as the "protective power" for the Turkish-speaking Crimean Tatars, and has a strong interest in assembling anti-Russian allies due to the escalation of its conflict with Russia. Jemilev has not only several honorary doctorates in Turkey, he was awarded Turkey's highest order of merit on April 15, 2014. June 3, 2014, he was awarded the first "Lech Walesa Solidarity Prize" in Poland, as well.

Violence: No Problem

The fact that its activists occasionally use violence, is no obstacle to the expansion of their anti-Moscow cooperation with the Crimean Tatar Mejlis. On September 16, 2015, Mejlis Chair Chubarov announced that, beginning September 20, Crimean Tatars would block Crimea's commodity trade with Ukraine. The blockade was actually installed - having a serious impact on the entire Crimean population. October 8, Chubarov praised that illegal measure, because it caused serious shortages and price increases for basic foods in Crimea - and has returned the issue of Crimea to the center of attention of the international community.[9] Just four days later, at the "Kiev Talks," organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the FDP-affiliated Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the Green Party-affiliated Heinrich Böll Foundation - "with the gracious support of the Foreign Ministry" - Chubarov engaged in talks with Rebecca Harms, Whip of the European Parliament's Green Caucus, Johannes Regenbrecht, head of the German Foreign Ministry's "Ukraine Task Force" and with Michael Link, (also a German) Director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The blockade, erected by the Tatars and Ukrainian "Right Sector" fascists, against the Crimean civilian population was continued. Just a few days after Chubarov and Jemilev had held talks on the "de-occupation of Crimea" with Federica Mogherini, the EU's head of foreign policy, on November 9, activists blew up electrical pylons in Southern Ukraine, cutting off Crimea's electrical power supply almost completely.

Like Kiev 2013

The concurrence of violent protests on the one hand, and negotiations with German and EU politicians on the other, is dreadfully reminiscent of earlier Ukrainian developments. From December 2012 to May 2013 - a year before the Maidan revolts - Parliamentary and street protests were accompanied by talks between German and EU diplomats and members of the opposition. ( reported.[10]) What happened in the Ukraine thereafter is well known.

An Initial Echo

Berlin is intensifying its contacts. As the Ukrainian embassy in the German capitol announced at the end of April, Chubarov had just participated in a forum of discussion at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), having exchanged views particularly with politicians and diplomats in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[11] Following that event, Bärbel Kofler, the German government's Commissioner for Human Rights, issued an appeal in the media on behalf of the Crimean Tatars. According to the Ukrainian embassy, this was the first direct "echo" of the talks Chubarov had had with German diplomats. What else was discussed remains unknown.

For more on this theme: Auxiliary Forces Against Moscow (I) and Auxiliary Forces against Moscow (II).

[1] Verständnis und Unterstützung. Vertreter tatarischer Vereine waren eingeladen ins Auswärtige Amt. 17.09.2009.
[2] See Hintergrundbericht: Die Föderalistische Union Europäischer Volksgruppen.
[3] See Our Man in Kiev.
[4] Mieste Hotopp-Riecke: Der lange Schatten Stalins über den Stiefkindern Eurasiens.
[5] See Alle für Deutschland.
[6] See Auxiliary Forces against Moscow (II).
[7] See Kurs auf Osteuropa.
[8] See The Siege of Crimea (II).
[9] Crimean blockade getting Moscow's attention. 08.10.2015.
[10] See Termin beim Botschafter.
[11] Parlamentsabgeordneter Chubarov spricht in Berlin über die Menschenrechtslage auf der Krim. 29.04.2016.