Yesterday as anticipated, the Crimean Supreme Council – subject to the assent from forthcoming referendum on Sunday 14 March confirmation, a result which is beyond doubt by hook or by crook – declared its independence from Ukraine, and immediate subjection to the Russian Federation upon its consent.
Crimean parliament adopted the Declaration of Independence of the ARC and Sevastopol
Voted to approve the Declaration of 78 deputies of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea 81, who took part in the vote.
Declaration of Independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol:
We, members of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol City Council, based on the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and many other international instruments recognizing the right of peoples to self-determination, as well as taking into account the support from the international Court of Justice on Kosovo from July 22, 2010 the fact that the unilateral declaration of independence part of the state does not violate any rules of international law and decide together:
1. If as a result of the upcoming March 16, 2014 of direct expression of the peoples of the Crimea will be decided on joining the Crimea, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Russia in the Crimea after the referendum will be declared an independent and sovereign state with a republican form of government.
2. Republic of Crimea is a democratic, secular and multi-ethnic state, which is obliged to keep the peace, inter-ethnic and inter-confessional accord in its territory.
3. Republic of Crimea as an independent and sovereign state in the case of the relevant results of the referendum will appeal to the Russian Federation with a proposal for the adoption of the ARC based on the relevant international agreement of the Russian Federation as a new subject of the Russian Federation.
Declaration approved by the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea at the extraordinary plenary session of March 11, 2014 (signed by the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Vladimir Konstantinov) and Decision of the Sevastopol City Council at an extraordinary plenary session of March 11, 2014 (signed by the Chairman of the Sevastopol city council Yu Doynikova ).
Press center of the Supreme Council of ARC
The Russian Duma, for its part, will consider the accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation on 21st March – coincidently the same day muted for Ukraine and the EU to sign the political Association Agreement part of the AA/DCFTA. Perhaps an unsaid tit-for-tat ultimatum.
The Crimean Supreme Council cites the fact that the declaration of unilateral independence is not illegal under international law, whilst others certainly do not share that legal opinion, such as OSCE. It certainly seems to me to sit somewhat uncomfortably with the Helsinki Accords.
Interestingly the declaration decided to include a specific reference to the International Court of Justice ruling of 2010 relating to Kosovo, though that ruling has not resulted in Kosovo gaining absolute international recognition as a sovereign state – and recognition matters in all sorts of ways.
Since its unilateral declaration of independence on 7th February 2008, as of today, the Republic of Kosovo has received 110 diplomatic recognitions as an independent state. Notably, 108 out of 193 (56%) United Nations (UN) member states, 23 out of 28 (82%) European Union (EU) member states, 24 out of 28 (86%) NATO member states, and 35 out of 57 (61%) Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states have recognised Kosovo – a slow process that has thus far failed to gain the unanimous support of any major international institution (or the entirety of its composite parts).
I have no intention of trying to create parallels between Crimea and Kosovo where so few really exist – suffice to say that one was born from horrendous conflict and ethnic atrocities – and the other not (I make a deferential nod regarding the mention of minorities within the declaration with some skepticism). Further when Kosovo seceded it did not join Albania, as Crimea intends to do with Russia. Two important differences that cannot be whitewashed over to conveniently provide a recent historical comparison – unless you happen to be a lazy journalist or Crimean politician trying to frame matters around claimed precedents.
The same – sadly – must be said about the EU politicians continually citing the Polish economy starting from the same place as the Ukrainian economy 22 years ago – there were huge differences between them and their integration with and reliance upon, Russia in 1991 – not that it excuses the criminal lack of development by the Ukrainian political class since then.
Any parallels between Kosovo and Crimea will undoubtedly be drawn by the ICJ many years from now, when and if Crimea attempts to gain legal recognition – despite the vast majority of the international community already deciding to ignore this unilateral move.
Of course there will be those who may claim, with some justification, that recognition – or not – is rather academic when considering the reality of the situation on the ground. That may be quite true and pragmatic based upon the situation now, but time does not stand still, and circumstances change. Some years, may be decades from now, international recognition may become a necessity for one reason or another for Crimea – and it will not be there in any depth whatsoever.
Just in case there are any readers from within the Russian Federation considering a unilateral referendum to secede the Russian Federation following the Crimean example, yesterday the Russian Criminal Code was amended (Article 280-1) making any such attempt an offence punishable by 5 years in prison for any and all involved.
Thus considering that amendment, the Crimean decision to accede to the Russian Federation would be very much like entering The Hotel California – “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave”.