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article imageOp-Ed: Monitors need Crimean government permission to enter Crimea

By Ken Hanly     Mar 8, 2014 in Politics
Simferopol - If OSCE monitors really wanted to enter the Crimea to defuse the situation and observe military movements, their first step would be to get permission from the relevant authorities.
The relevant authorities in this case are the de facto Crimean government and the Russians whose force helps keep them in power. This is true even though OSCE monitors may think that it is the writ of the Ukraine government that counts and that they have permission from the Ukraine. Perhaps another fairy tale is in order because I get the impression that many people have conceptual difficulties appreciating the situation.
Guantanamo Bay is part of Cuba. Let us suppose that the Cuban government asked the UN to send an envoy, or observers approved by the OAS, to Guantanamo to see if the inmates there are being humanely treated and their rights not violated. The envoy or observers arrive at the border crossing into Guantanamo and try to enter. Of course the guards would say that the envoy or observers had to get permission from the US authorities. The UN envoy or observers point out that they have permission of the Cubans and the Bay is part of Cuba so they do not need permission from the US. The guards point out that the US has a lease in perpetuity to the area. The UN envoy or observers reply that Cuba does not recognize the lease and leases in perpetuity are invalid at any rate, so that they are permitted to enter without US permission. The envoy or the observers would not be let in until they got permission from US authorities.
The situation is similar in the Crimea. The OSCE monitors and the UN envoy have permission from the interim Ukrainian government to enter the Crimea, which is part of Ukraine. However it is the Crimean government with Russian backing that controls the Crimea, not the Ukrainian government. If the monitors want in they must get permission from those actually in control. Now it is three times that the monitors have tried to enter and failed. The last and most recent attempt ended in warning gunshots. Robert Sperry the UN envoy was forced out of the Crimea because he was there without the permission of the government.
The problem for the envoy and the observers is that to ask for authority from the Crimean government would be to admit it had legitimacy as the real power in the area. The Crimean government with Russian support does have this power. Why not recognize this and try to get permission either directly through the Crimean government or requesting it indirectly through Russia? Instead there is a media circus providing photo ops. with Ukrainian cheerleaders at a border crossing, that does nothing to defuse the crisis or help in getting observers or the envoy inside of Crimea. Meanwhile the Russians and Crimean government are consolidating their hold on power in the Crimea. Asking permission to enter does not ensure that it will be granted but it is a necessary condition for entering unless the west simply wants to use force to send in unarmed observers to "help stabilize the situation"!
The Ukrainian government and their supporters define reality in a way that refuses to recognize the de facto control of the Republic of Crimea and the Russians in the Crimea. Russia defines reality in a manner that refuses to recognize the actual interim government in the Ukraine at least in some respects. They refuse to talk with them. The lack of recognition by both sides of realities that they dislike makes the situation in the Ukraine more and more fraught with tension. The Russians need to talk with Ukrainian authorities and Ukraine and western supporters need to recognize the reality in the Crimea. Notice on the appended video that the OSCE says nothing about getting permission from the Crimean government or the Russians. No reporter asks about this either. The Euronews video also says nothing about the issue as if it was somehow irrelevant. Neither report bothers to address what is surely a key question although there are other reports that note that the guards told the observers that they should contact the Crimean government for permission to enter.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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