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‘Self-determination doctrine is in the eye of the beholder’

Published time: March 11, 2014 22:30
People gather at a pro Russian rally in Simferopol's Lenin Square on March 9, 2014. (AFP Photo)

​The West cannot interfere or prevent any course of action in Crimea as tensions can never be handled in a military or cold-war fashion while so much mutual cooperation exists between Russia and the West, believes former UN peacekeeper Gerard Gallucci.

Gallucci, the Diplomat-in-Residence at Drake University also told RT that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia could provide the legal basis for Crimea’s succession based on self-determination, despite US claims Kosovo was a “unique” case not setting any precedents.

RT: Crimean authorities cite Kosovo’s declaration of independence recognized by the UN court as a precedent for the peninsula to do the same within international law. You yourself served as a peacekeeper in Kosovo, what you make of this parallel?

Gerard Gallucci: Well this sort of thing is really in the eye of the beholder. And folks will have their own view. The United States has long declared the unilateral declaration by Kosovo in 2008 was unique and did not set any precedents. Now the initial intervention in Kosovo by NATO was done without the UN Security Council resolution and the declaration of independence in 2008 was done outside of the context of the resolution that was eventually adopted by the UN Security Council 1244. The US, I’ve said, has always claimed that that was not a precedent. Now amongst others, the Russian government and others have long disputed that and I say it is really in the eye of the beholder.

RT: And yet more than 100 UN member states recognized Kosovo and yet the Western community is very keen to really rush and dismiss Crimea’s choice before any referendums being held…

GG: Well look there are a number of questions relevant here. First of all, what about the claims of the Russian government that there has been actual violence or threats against Russians in Crimea or elsewhere in Ukraine. It seems like most of the world questions those claims.

Nevertheless Crimeans presumably, if you’re going to follow the idea of self-determination, might be seen as having a right to make their own judgment. That leads to the next question about the fairness and acceptability of any vote. And in the context of some of the actions recently taken against Ukrainians living in Crimea, trying to demonstrate and express their support for Ukraine and their treatment by some of these militias or others, you could wonder about the fairness of the vote. But self-determination is a doctrine that has been accepted by many and then sometimes denied.

Media representatives watch an F-16 fighter jet take off as Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski (not pictured) visits the Lask airbase in central Poland March 11, 2014. (Reuters/Kacper Pempel)

RT: We have seen reports that a dozen of fighter jets and hundreds of personnel are off to Ukraine’s borders. And we have heard from the Pentagon’s spokesman, “What we are doing is reassuring our allies that we are there for them,” - is this a sensible approach at this really tense time?

GG: I have long wondered about the US and Western European policy of pushing NATO right up against and into the boundaries of the former Soviet Union. The sending of aircraft and ships might be seen as reassurance within the NATO context. After all Poland for example is in NATO and there are treaty obligations. But there is really no military solution to this. There is no way this could be dealt with in military fashion, so in my view adding military assets to the region is really uncalled for.

RT: If Crimea does actually vote to leave Ukraine will the West try to interfere to stop that happening and indeed how could it interfere, what could it do?

GG: There is really not much the West could do to interfere or to prevent. The question is how credible is any referendum and if it is not credible or widely accepted, will this lead to a sort of frozen situation in which some people recognize, some people don’t and we all get stuck repeating the same old formula, each from our own side. The world does not need another cold war and certainly not over Crimea.

RT: And why won’t it return to the Cold War as so much of the Western media is reporting?

GG: There is too much that we have mutually in common between the West, the US and Russia. For example just today in Kazakhstan, the latest crew of astronauts from the International Space Station landed. And the fact that we continue to cooperate in this area shows that we can cooperate. And there’re issues such as Syria and Iran. There are good reasons for all of us to continue to find ways to work together while recognizing that we all have our own national interests and we have to deal how it is seen not only by ourselves but by the other side.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Comments (1)

 

Groovy Bob 11.03.2014 23:13

Self-determination is self-explanatory. Anyone that tries to tell you that it's complicated has a hidden agenda.

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