The signing of an association and free trade zone agreement between Kiev and the European Union, planned for late November of this year, will have the most serious of socioeconomic consequences for Ukraine. However, it doesn't stop there. Eurointegration could become a threat to Ukraine's territorial integrity. Kiev has already taken its first territorial loss, and it was from the West that the blow came: by a decision of the UN International Court, Romania snatched the shelf around Snake Island away from Ukraine in 2009.
This will most likely not be Ukraine's last loss on the way to its European future. The faster Kiev moves toward eurointegration, the louder is the voice of Ankara, which is hungry for its own piece of the Ukrainian pie: the Crimea.
At the recent meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan and the head of the Crimean Tatar mejlis М. Dzhemilev, the results of Ukrainian president V. Yanukovich's visit to Turkey were discussed, in particular, how the Crimean Tatar issue was addressed during the visit. And Ankara could not but address it. Turkey proposed holding a four-way summit (the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Turkey + representatives of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea + the head of the mejlis, М. Dzhemilev), which the Ukrainian president could not refuse to do. The event is planned for January 2014, when Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu will come to Kiev for a meeting of the foreign ministers of OSCE member countries. Turkey has been expressing a desire to create a free trade zone with Ukraine, and this argument, along with Ankara's ability to light or extinguish the fuse to the Crimean Tatar «bomb» at the right time, is making Kiev more accommodating.
Dzhemilev reported the results of the meeting of mejlis representatives with EU commissioner Stefan Fule and the assessment of the status of the Crimean Tatar issue by UN and OSCE experts to Erdogan. The essence of these assessments are as follows: Ukraine has started the process of correcting historical injustices with regard to the Crimean Tatars, but it needs to go even further to accommodate the demands of the mejlis. The fact that these demands are endless does not concern euroofficials. The more regions of Ukraine are independent of Kiev, the better for the European Union; that way it will be possible to negotiate with them over Kiev's head. High-ranking European politicians have emphasized many times that the future of Ukrainian-European relations depends not only on the adoption of EU technical regulations and observance of the rights of members of the LGBT community, but also on the resolution of the Crimean Tatar issue in accordance with Brussels’ wishes. The Crimean Tatars in Ukraine are already in a position of privilege, but Brussels, the mejlis and Ankara unanimously demand ever greater concessions.
As Erdogan has announced, Ankara welcomes Ukraine's plans for eurointegration. The reason is simple: it will be easier to increase Turkish influence in the Crimea in a «European» Ukraine than in a «Eurasian» Ukraine. Yigit Bulut, an advisor to the prime minister of Turkey, has stated that the European Union is entering a phase of disintegration and that the Turks must return to their political traditions rather than hover on Europe's doorstep. The scale of the «political traditions» Bulut has in mind is impressive: Turkey must regain its «natural leadership» in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Central Asia. The Crimea also falls within the scope of the Turkish foreign policy doctrine…
Recently something new has appeared in the political mosaic of the Crimea: human-rights rhetoric from Muslim activists, and female ones at that. The newly-formed human rights organization Insaf Muslim Women's League has been reporting religious discrimination against Muslim women in the Crimea (refusal to allow the use of photographs of women applicants wearing Muslim headscarves in documents, etc.). Insaf activists urge the authorities to consider the opinions of Ukrainian Muslim women and further add: if someone tries to make you take your headscarf off when entering an educational institution, do not enter into any dialogs or compromises!
Such human rights advocacy looks more like dictation, and this card will also be used both by Brussels and by Ankara. An All-Crimean Islamic Women's Conference was supposed to take place October 5 in Simferopol, but the event was disrupted by a report that explosives had supposedly been found in the building. Insaf asserts that secret attempts are being made to hinder their activities.
A similar statement came from the Crimean cell of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was also unable to hold a conference planned for October 7 in the building of the Crimean Ukrainian Theater because the renter unexpectedly terminated the rental agreement for the venue. Hizb ut-Tahrir has not ruled out the possibility of going to court about this, emphasizing that their organization is a peaceful one and observes all the procedural rules of Ukrainian law. It remains only to explain how Hizb ut-Tahrir's observance of the laws in other countries (Russia, Germany, Central Asian republics) led to their activities being banned in these countries as terrorist activities.
It is difficult to imagine that Turkey, for example, would allow Ukraine to determine the means for resolving ethnic problems in Turkish society, of which, by the way, there are plenty (the long history of persecution of Armenians, the documenting of all Turkish citizens as Turks regardless of their true ethnicity, etc.). It is just as difficult to imagine that the European Union would allow Kiev to influence ethnic processes in Europe, for example, to initiate discussion of the problem of the gradual disappearance of the Sorbs in Germany or the divided Frisian people in the Netherlands and Germany. But the Crimean Tatar segment on the Crimean Peninsula has already been removed from Kiev's cultural and ideological control. Brussels and Ankara are now vying for influence over the Crimean Tatars and, through them, the entire Crimea. This rivalry does not prevent Turkish and European officials from unanimously urging Ukraine to «join Europe». The strong always dictate terms to the weak; such is the law of politics. And they push the weak into places where they will become even weaker.