Ukraine-Crimea – The Solution Is a Federation with
By Johan Galtung
In this column, Johan Galtung, rector of the TRANSCEND
Peace University and author of "50 Years - 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives"
(www.transcend.org/tup), writes about the situation in Ukraine and Crimea
and possible solutions.
ALFAZ, Spain , Apr 1 2014 (IPS)
- History, not
only law, matters: like how Crimea and Abkhazia-South Ossetia – basically
Russian-Orthodox – became Ukrainian and Georgian, respectively.
Two Soviet dictators, Nikita
Khrushchev and Joseph Stalin, transferred Crimea to Ukraine and Abkhazia-South
Ossetia to Georgia by dictate. The local people were not asked – just as
Hawaiians were not consulted when the U.S. annexed their kingdom in 1898.
The first referendum in Crimea,
held Mar. 16, resulted in an overwhelming No to Ukraine and Yes to the
Khrushchev’s 1954 transfer of
Crimea was within the Soviet Union, and under Red Army control. But when
the Soviet Union collapsed and the Red Army became the Russian army, the
Former U.S. president George
W. Bush wanted Ukraine and Georgia to become NATO members, moving the Russian
minorities two steps away from Russia. Nothing similar applies to the other
Russian minorities in the former Soviet republics. They are people living
on somebody else’s land, not people living on their own land.
What happened to Crimea was a
correction of what had become a basic mistake. However, Russia moving into
eastern Ukraine could be – as the West says – invasion-occupation-annexation.
But that would be highly unlikely,
unless civil war broke out between Ukraine
West and East, and
the Russian minority in the East – Donetsk – was in danger. Russia
would not stand by, just as NATO would not if something similar happened
close to the Polish border in Lvov.
This simply must not happen,
but the possibility is growing.
President Vladimir Putin has
the formula: a Ukrainian federation. Look at the maps, for instance the
votes for Yulia Tymoshenko in the West and North and for Viktor Yanukovych
in East and South Ukraine in the 2010 elections.
Elections decided by longitude-latitude
mean two countries, and yet there is also just one.
The solution: a federation with
high levels of autonomy for both parts. Educated guess: it will happen.
This is where Putin made his
basic mistake: he moved too fast. He is more intelligent - better informed,
more able to manage many factors mentally at the same time – than Western
leaders. Others are slower; they need more time.
A referendum is the right of
any people regardless of what the law says, a serious act under freedom
of expression – whether in Crimea (illegal), Scotland (legal), Catalonia
in Spain (illegal). What then happens is a
very different matter. If people vote for
a divorce, then so be it. But
make it clean. Putin has made it dirty so
far – but the situation can be
Putin should have called a conference
right after the referendum, before any annexation, making it clear that
he would respect the call for Crimea’s entry into the Russian Federation,
but would take the concerns of everyone touched directly by the outcome
The Tatars are Muslims, not Orthodox.
Not unlike the Serbs in Kosovo, who are Orthodox, not Muslim like the Albanian
majority. Respect them, offer them the dignity
of autonomy within Crimea, try
to amend the horrors perpetrated against them in the past,
be open to reconciliation.
in Crimea, soldiers or civilians: If firmly rooted, invite them to stay;
if garrisoned soldiers, invite them to leave peacefully before any annexation
makes it look like surrender.
The Russian-speaking in Ukraine
(16 percent): Leave the door open for a Crimean-style process with referendum
and annexation if they so wish – but make
it clear that the West of Ukraine would have the same right.
neutral buffer might be better
for all. How could the European Union-Russia-NATO-Shanghai
Cooperation Organisation cooperate to make that a reality?
Let them benefit jointly from
the offers to make them lean one way or the other, towards the EU or towards
Russia. Could the West do one, and the East the other?
The how, when, where and by whom
to be discussed at the conference.
Kievan-Rus: Yes, there
are Russian origins in the Ukrainian capital.
This does not give Russia a legitimate claim
to Kiev, just as origin does not give Israel
legitimate claim to Palestinian land even
if the West accepts it, origin does not give Serbia legitimate claim to
all of Kosovo, and origin does not give Damascus-Baghdad legitimate claims
in Southern Spain.
European borders have shifted
a great deal; there are many origins to claim.
Sanctions against selected individuals:
Make it clear
that Russia has not and will not kill anybody if not attacked, and that
sanctions may also one day be applied to individuals who launch aggressive,
not defensive wars, such as the one in Afghanistan;
admit that the Russian invasion there was
also a mistake.
Kosova/o. The Albanians based
on an overwhelming majority took Kosovo out of Serbia, but they
did not have the right to take the Serbian minority with them –
a good reason for not recognising Kosova. The solution is a federation
with high autonomy for Serbs.
Now Putin has to show his willingness
to do that for the Tatars and then recognise Kosovo – asking them to use
Yugo-space as he will use the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
This back-up copy is made available simultaneously
with a link to the original site.
It is intended to keep this historical document
accessible for research purposes.
We thank IPS New Service for its fair reporting.
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