Staunton, August 21 – Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko has named Mustafa Cemilev to the new position of plenipotentiary representative for Crimean Tatar affairs and charged him with “securing the observation of the constitutional rights of the Crimean Tatar people as an indigenous people of Ukraine” (grani.ru/Politics/World/Europe/Ukraine/m.232238.html).
Poroshenko’s decision institutionalizes the Verkhovna Rada’s vote on March 20 declaring the Crimean Tatars an indigenous people of Ukraine and underscores Kyiv’s commitment to ending the illegal Russian occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula. It also gives Cemilev, the longtime leader of the Crimean Tatars, new official standing.
Western governments should follow Poroshenko’s action by articulating a non-recognition policy, officially underlining that the international community does not recognize Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea by imposing restrictions on what Western officials can travel there and on Western investment.
Moreover, thanks to what President Poroshenko has done, such governments now have an official they can interact with on Crimean Tatar affairs and thus have yet another means of making it clear that Russian occupation is at odds with international law and with the right of nations to self-determination.