Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Crimea's referendum is neither illegal nor illegitimate

The EU and US have imposed sanctions on Russia for its continued presence in Crimea after somewhere between 93% and 97% of Crimeans voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia (news reports are inconsistent).

True to form, the EU is unhappy with the result of the referendum and says they have to hold another one that gives people an option of staying in Ukraine and changing nothing. With a turnout of over 80% and more than 90% in favour of joining Russia it's hard to see what difference it would have made other than splitting the few percent that voted to stay in Ukraine with greater autonomy.

The EU and US have declared the result of the referendum illegal and unconstitutional and William Hague has repeated the EU's position as if it were his own. It's true that under Ukrainian law Crimean independence is unconstitutional but once they've declared independence - which they have - Ukrainian law and the Ukrainian constitution no longer applies. If all that was required to stop a country declaring independence was a piece of domestic legislation then no country would become independent again.

The International Court of Justice has already ruled that international law has no "prohibition on declarations of independence" when it was considering the legality of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence. There is simply no international law against unilateral declarations of independence and it's this concept of something not being illegal because there's no law against it that confuses the EU who operate under the Roman/Napoleonic legal system where everything is wrong unless the law says it's right rather than the Common Law which says everything is right unless the law says it's wrong.

All the countries (plus the EU) that are describing Crimea's declaration of independence as illegal are motivated by self interest. The EU doesn't want to set a precedent that a country could leave a United States of Europe just because it wanted to, the UK doesn't want to set a precedent that Scotland or England could unilaterally declare independence, Spain with the Basque country, the US with Texas or Hawaii, Italy with Venice or Sicily, France with Corsica, China with Hong Kong or Macau ... need I go on?

The claims that the referendum is invalid because it was conducted under Russian occupation are equally vacuous. Whether the "defence forces" are Crimean or Russian is debatable but a moot point given the fact that they have been welcomed on the streets, there have been no reports of violence in the run-up to the referendum and the huge turnout on Sunday. Clearly those that were put off voting by the presence of these "defence forces" were insignificant in number.

The fact is, the Crimean authorities had de facto control of Crimea, it has a defined territory and population, the Crimean people have a shared history and culture and the Crimean authorities have the machinery of state to be able to conduct international relations. It ticks all the boxes.

If the EU had kept is nose out of Ukrainian affairs none of this would have happened. It was EU empire building that precipitated this whole crisis and in time we will undoubtedly find evidence that the EU sponsored the pro-EU protesters that deposed the elected president. Now that events have played out their inevitable course the EU has nothing to offer Ukraine but some temporary trade deals worth a fraction of what it had with Russia.

The Crimean people have expressed their wishes quite clearly and unequivocally and as uncomfortable as that makes world leaders trying to cling on to their own little empires, we should respect their decision and move on.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...