Turco-Ukrainian relations are based fundamentally on policy toward the Crimean Tatars. On that basis, Kiev and Ankara have cooperated on joint projects in the areas of defense and security. ”The two sides have reached agreement on working together in order to liberate the Crimea from occupation,” according to Petro Poroshenko following his meeting with the Turkish President Recep Erdogan. The Crimean Tatars play the role of intermediaries in the rapprochement process between the two sides.
In 2014 a faction of the Crimean Tatars already tried to achieve their ambitions, but did not meet with Turkish support at that time. Only after the deterioration of Russo-Turkish relations did the “mejlis” (Crimean Tatar organization) stand a chance of receiving support from its allies. In December of 2015 several meetings took place between the Ukrainian President’s plenipotentiary for Crimean Tatar affairs, Mustafa Dzemilev, and the Turkish leadership. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stressed that the fate of the Crimean Tatars was a matter of “prime importance” for Turkey.
In 1969 Dzemilev joined Andrei Sakharov’s group, thanks to which he acquired a false image as an opponent of violence. He was indicted seven times for CIA ties and spent a total of 10 years in prison, only to be allowed by Mikhail Gorbachev to return to Crimea. In 2004 he took part in the “orange revolution” that was staged by the US following Gene Sharp’s playbook, according to the French analyst Thierry Meyssan.
In 2003 Dzemilev launched a campaign of opposition to the recognition of Armenian genocide and threatened the Ukrainian government with grave consequences should it offend the dignity of Turkey by adopting such a measure.
On June 3 2014, at the time of President Obama’s visit to Poland, Dzemilev received from the Polish government the “Solidarity” prize, which brought him a cash award of one million euros. At the same time, Dzemilev initiated a PR campaign to set up the “Krim” (Crimea) battalion, tasked with “liberating” the peninsula.
According to information originating from the local authorities, Dzemilev is the main moving force behind the blockade of the Crimea. In concert with the other “mejlis” leader Refat Chubarov he organized a food supply blockade of the peninsula and openly advocated ending all energy deliveries to Crimea. His supporters set up concrete roadblocks on roads leading to the Crimea and impeded truck traffic to the peninsula. However, these and other facts of a similar nature have not discouraged Western politicians from elevating Dzemilev and Chubarov to the status of “justice activists”.
Dzemilev and Chubarov, among other things, indefatigably insist on the “exclusive right” of Crimean Tatars to have issues such as land distribution resolved in their favor because of their supposed status as the “native population” of the Crimea. Remsi Iliyasov, leader of the Crimean Tatar association “Kirim” has criticized Dzemilev and Chubarov for inflicting damage to the Crimean Tatar people for their own “political convenience”:
“The worst of it is that they both pretend to speak in the name of all Crimean Tatars without even bothering to take into account what the Crimean Tatars actually think.”
At a meeting with Hakan Fidan, head of the Turkish secret service MIT, Dzemilev raised the subject of devoting funds in furtherance of a risky plan. He proposed the construction of a Crimean Tatar military base in the immediate proximity of the peninsula in the city of Herson.
According to Dzemilev there were problems with lodging, lack of military uniforms, food supplies, and the like. In addition to that, in Ukrainian port “particularly strong pro-Russian sentiment” was palpable, which made the presence of Crimean Tatars all the more vital for the Ukraine.
An Intelligence Affair and the Unmasking of an MIT Agent
What brings together Mustafa Dzemilev and Hakan Fidan? The SBU (Ukraining Intelligence Service) computer system was hacked not long ago and information demonstrating that Dzemilev was involved in intelligence activities at the behest of Turkey became publicly available. SBU’s attention had focused on him a long time ago since counter-espionage is one of the tasks of that Service.
SBU confirmed the authenticity of the documents. The order to undertake intelligence activity against Ukraine could have been issued only at a very high level. The recently unmasked intelligence operative was even honored with one of Ankara’s highest award, the Order of the Turkish Republic.
According to information gathered by SBU, Dzemilev worked for MIT and was considered a threat to Ukrainian national security. SBU informed Yanukovich and his closest collaborators that Dzemilev’s activities are coordinated and sponsored through the Turkish embassy.
Between 2008 and 2012 the Turkish intelligence service paid him more than three million dollars. SBU made it clear to the Kiev authorities that Turkey was financing Dzemilev’s anti-Ukrainian activities. That constituted crude interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine. Hakan Fidan was directly involved.
MIT collaborates closely with the CIA and other intelligence services of the United States. That was revealed by “The Washington Post,” relying on sources with close ties to those agencies. During the Cold War the CIA utilized many Crimean Tatars as agents tasked with undermining the economy of the Soviet Union.
The Crimean Tatar community in Moscow has called on President Erdogan to put a stop to Dzemilev’s destructive activities. However, Erdogan is not likely to comply with their request. Nevertheless, Dzemilev’s prestige in the Ukraine will be adversely affected as a result of the facts about him that have come out into the open.
Hakan Fidan, who was appointed to his post in 2010, is at present Turkey’s shadow foreign minister. He is present at practically all high level meetings. It is not a secret to anyone that both the Turkish President and prime minister have more trust in him than in any other government functionary.
The Turkish intelligence service MIT evolved from an organization modest in size into a huge outfit, according to the magazine „Al-Monitor“. The headquarters has grown in size, the field of operations has been expanded, and the number of special operations has increased. In addition to that, the Service controls military units abroad and is setting up its own infrastructure within Turkey, which allows it to conduct special operations at both foreign and domestic levels. Over the last decade, MIT’s budget has increased by 419% according to the magazine report.
“The national intelligence service has inserted its network of agents within countries whose relations with Turkey are not official or friendly. That trend is perceptible in the Middle East, Israel, and Iran, ” “Al-Monitor” maintains.
The Turkish intelligence service is active in Germany, according to information posted on Wikipedia. In Germany according to analyst Ali Solmadza, in contrast to other foreign intelligence services, MIT has successfully implanted a broad network of collaborators and structures. Hundreds of agents of Turkish ethnicity work for MIT as businessmen, tour agents, and in many other sensitive positions. Solmadza points out that official sources have confirmed that about 800 collaborators of the Turkish intelligence service are active abroad. The actual number of persons with ties to MIT or who share information with it is, of course, significantly greater.
In 2014 Nadir Bekirov, director of the legal department of the Crimean Tatar mejlis, granted an interview to the German weekly JungeFreiheit. He called Ukraine a “prison” for the Crimean Tatars.
JungeFreiheit: Mr. Bekirov, what are in your opinion the key issues facing Crimean Tatars in the Ukraine today?
Bekirov: In the Ukraine, Crimean Tatars are ignored in many respects. We do not have a right to national self-government, the right to use our natural resources, the right to the land. Many other issues should also be mentioned such as, for instance, failure to recognize the Crimean Tatars as a nation. Ukrainian legislation sidesteps that issue entirely. As a rule, in our homeland, the Crimea, we are treated simply as an ethnic minority, no different than other minorities in the Ukraine. Today, we exert no influence whatsoever on politics in the Ukraine.
JungeFreiheit: You have spoken of apartheid practiced by the Ukrainian state against your people.
Bekirov: Crimean Tatars are handicapped in many ways, which can be expressed in terms of apartheid. Examples are a ban on ownership of personal or collective property, deprivation of the right to inheritance, prohibition of land ownership… When I speak of apartheid, I speak not in vain. I am referring to the meaning of the concept of apartheid in the legal sense. That is an institutional policy. With respect to our people, it is the official policy of the Ukrainian government… There is not much that the fourteen deputies who at present represent Crimean Tatars in the Ukrainian parliament can do for them.
JungeFreiheit: Do you think as many do that the tension between Slavs and Crimean Tatars is deliberately stoked to serve someone’s interests?
Bekirov: Ethnic tensions are not stoked, they always existed and that is part of the apartheid policy toward Crimean Tatars… It will be intensified, but we will not simply give up, we will defend our rights.
“The Ukrainian parliament in Kiev has yet to take action in order to pass legislation to rehabilitate Crimean Tatars. The feeling of oppression is increasingly spreading among Crimean Tatars”, the weekly concludes. (Source: JungeFreiheit, May 28, 2004)
In 2014 President Putin stressed that the Crimean Tatar nation, which was subjected to repression during the Stalinist period, has been rehabilitated by the Russian government. Putin took the further step of raising the Crimean Tatar language to the official status. Another important advance was the legal recognition of the land and water rights of the Crimean Tatars.
However, representatives of the Crimean Tatar elite, supported by Dzemilev, are keen for Crimea to again become part of Ukraine. In other words, what they are demanding is the return of apartheid.