Nepal’s Policy on Crimea

Nepal’s Policy on Crimea

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Buddhi Narayan Shrestha

Crimea as a federal state kept up pressure to be separated from Ukraine and to unify with Russia on 9 March 2014. Crimea became the flashpoint in the battle for Ukraine, where three months of protests sparked. During that period Ukraine Prime Minister said- ‘This is our land. Our fathers, grand fathers and forefathers have spilled their blood for this land. And we won’t budge a single centimeter from Ukrainian land.’ He further said, this is the threatening of the unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine. In spite of the Prime Minister’s expression, the regional parliament in Crimea set a referendum for 16 March on leaving Ukraine to join Russia. Some of the Crimean local inhabitants who were working in Ukraine’s national railway network expressed ‘In Russia I can earn over three times what I do in Ukraine.’

The referendum was to decide whether to split off from Ukraine and become part of Russia or stay with Ukraine but with greater autonomy. The referendum was held and result was in favour of seceding from Ukraine. 97 percent of voters opted to join Russia. After the referendum Russian President and Crimean leaders signed on treaty on 18 March 2014 on making Crimea part of Russia. Now Russian flag was waved in Crimea.

In the mean time Ukraine’s Parliament appealed to the Untied Nations to discuss the occupation by Russian forces of its Crimean Peninsula that violated the fundamental principles of international law. To materialize the Ukraine’s request, there was a voting in the UN General Assembly on 26 March, whether the Ukraine appeal to the UN should be entertained.

UN General Assembly affirmed Ukraine’s territorial integrity and deemed the referendum that led to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula illegal. The vote on the Ukraine-sponsored resolution in the 193-member world body was 100 countries in favour, 11 opposed and 58 abstentions, and 24 countries did not vote.

So the high number of ‘Yes’ votes representing more than half the 193 UN member states, was a sign on international anger at Moscow’s slow motion military invasion of Crimea. Before the vote, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister told the Assembly that his country’s territorial integrity and unity had been ‘ruthlessly trampled’ by Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council entrusted to maintain international peace and security, and in direct violation of the UN Charter. He told reporters after the vote, ‘It is the message that the world is united and Russia is isolated.’

But Russia’s UN Ambassador called it ‘A moral victory for the Russian diplomacy, because an increasing number of countries are beginning to understand the complexity of the situation and motives behind the actions on Crimea and the Russian Federation.’ He urged a ‘No vote’ saying a historic injustice in Crimea has been corrected and its people had expressed their right to self-determination in wanting to join Russia. Himalayan Times Daily, 29 March 2014: 6

Whatever may be the result of the voting in the UN General Assembly, Crimea has been annexed to Russia and Crimean territory is amalgamated within the territory of Russian Federation. It has shown that United Nations also is a meek and powerless organization that it could not implement the decision of the voting of the General Assembly on the issue of territorial integrity of a UN member nation.

In connection to the annexation of Crimea to Russia, United States President Barack Obama said: Vladimir Putin with being a menace to an international system built up over decades following the Russian leader’s sudden appropriation of part of Ukraine. Putin’s decision to redraw his region’s borders had caused ‘a moment of testing’, Obama said in a 40-minute speech on his first visit in office to Brussels. ‘Bigger nations can bully smaller ones to get their way,’ he said. ‘We must never take for granted the progress that has been won here in Europe and advanced around the world, because the contest of ideas continues. And that’s what’s at stake in Ukraine today. Russia’s leadership is challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident, that in the 21st century the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future.’ Obama painted Putin as a menace to a law-based international system that had taken decades to establish after the Second World War. The, Wednesday 26 March 2014

On the other hand the Russian President Vladimir Putin said ‘In people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia, making it sound like it had always been a matter of time before Moscow made its move to recover the territory. This firm conviction is based on truth and justice.’ The Guardian, 23 March 2014 Putin further said Crimean people are free for their self-decision. Western countries have instigated Ukraine on the matter of Crimea, and they are intended to push the international politics to the cold war.

This shows that the speed of Mr. Putin’s annexation of Crimea, redrawing an international border that has been recognized as part of an independent Ukraine for 23 years, has been breathtaking.

After one month, Crimean flare did spread over Donetsk, a city of eastern Ukraine. Donetsk also proclaimed, on 7 April 2014, the creation of a sovereign ‘People’s Republic’ independent of Kiev rule. The self-proclaimed leaders of Donetsk vowed to hold a regional sovereignty referendum no later than 11 May 2014. Himalayan Times Daily, 8 April 2014:7

In the context of federalism, Nepal can take a lesson from Sudan as well. Sudan was splitted on Sudan and South Sudan. There was a voting whether South Sudan should break away from Sudan and declare independence. 98.83 percent of the South Sudanese population voted for independence from Sudan. As a result South Sudan was created on 9 July 2011, as the 193rd Member State of the United Nations. But there was a dispute on the border between Sudan and South Sudan during March-April 2012. Fighting broke out on the sharing or ownership of border oil fields. However, demilitarized buffer zone was created and resumed South Sudanese oil production for export. The region of Abyei still remains disputed and a separate referendum is due to be held in Abyei on whether they join North Sudan or South Sudan.

Nepal must not forget the case of Crimea regarding the territorial integrity, unity, sovereignty and independence of a country like Nepal. In the same way while framing the Articles on boundaries, Nepal must remember that Czechoslovakia was divided into Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. Yugoslavia was splitted into six divisions in 1991 and Kosovo was created as a new country in 2008. Similarly, it is a sensitive matter for Nepal that Sikkim was annexed to India in 1975 through the medium of referendum and Tibet was amalgamated to China in 1959 on the basis of military forces.

Constitution drafting and framing up its Articles are very important matters for the national integrity and sovereignty. Boundary of a nation is a sensitive element in the perspective of territorial integrity. If there might have been some loop holes in the article and sub-articles of the constitution, the country would be divided or splitted into various divisions. Ultimately, all these divisions may be weaker in terms of national defense and sovereign power.

Whatever it may be, the CA members and high ranking authorities and personalities must keep in mind the case of Ukraine and its federal State Crimea, located on the Black Sea of Europe, while drafting and framing new constitution. Nepal must learn from Crimean case. If they do not pay attention on the incident of Crimea, Nepal shall meet the misfortune as Ukraine has experienced woefulness that its Federal State Crimea did split up from mainland Ukraine.

UkraineMy article has been published in Nepali language on Crimea as follows:

क्रिमियाबारे नेपाल नीति

युरोपको कृष्णसागरमा रहेको प्रान्तीय राज्य क्रिमिया प्रायद्वीप युक्रेनकै सीमाभित्र रहिरहने या रूसको सीमारेखाभित्र गाभिने भन्ने दुई विकल्पका साथ जनमत संग्रह भएको थियो । जनमत संग्रहद्वारा दुई तिहाइभन्दा बढी मतले रूसको सीमाभित्र गाभिने इच्छा व्यक्त गर्‍यो । परिणामतः १८ मार्च २०१४ देखि क्रिमियाको सीमाभित्र रूसी झण्डा फहराइयो । यसबाट रूसको भौगोलिक सीमा विस्तार भयो, त्यस राष्ट्रको क्षेत्रफल बढ्यो । अर्कोतिर युक्रेन राष्ट्रको २६ हजार १ सय वर्गकिलोमिटर भू-भाग घट्यो र २० लाख जनसंख्या कम हुनपुग्यो । क्रिमियाको आगो सल्किएर युक्रेनकै अर्को राज्य दोनेत्सकले हालै स्वतन्त्र भएको घोषणा गर्नुका साथै त्यहाँ जनमत संग्रह गरिने भएको छ । तथापि जनमत संग्रह सफल हुन्छ या हुँदैन भन्ने कुरो गर्भभित्रै रहेको छ ।

यसबाट विश्वका शक्तिराष्ट्रबीच विश्व राजनीतिमा तरंग पैदा भयो । विश्व इतिहासमा क्रिमियाको मामिलाले भौगोलिक अखण्डता, जनताको सार्वभौमिकता, राष्ट्रिय सुरक्षा संवेदनशीलतामाथि समेत प्रश्न खडा गर्‍यो । युक्रेनको स्वशाषित राज्य क्रिमियाले जनमत संग्रह घोषणा गरी रूसको सीमाभित्र विलय हुने निर्णय गरेपछि विश्वका विभिन्न देशहरू अमेरिका तथा युरोपेली र रूस गरी दुई खेमामा विभाजन हुनपुगेका थिए । यसैबीच जनमत संग्रह रूसको दबाबमा भएको भन्दै युक्रेनले जनमत संग्रहको नतिजालाई मान्यता नदिन संयुक्त राष्ट्र संघसमक्ष अनुरोध गर्‍यो । यसै सिलसिलामा क्रिमियामा सम्पन्न जनमत संग्रहलाई वैधानिकता दिने वा नदिने भन्ने विषयमा संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघको साधारण सभामा २६ मार्चमा मतदान भयो । जनमत संग्रहलाई मान्यता दिन नहुने पक्षमा अमेरिका, बेलायत, इयु देशहरूको १ सय मत पर्‍यो भने मान्यता दिने पक्षमा बेलारुस, बोलिभिया, उत्तर कोरिया आदि देशको ११ मतका साथै नेपाल, चीन, भारत, इजरायल, इरान आदि ५८ देश तटस्थ बसे । यस आलेखमा उल्लेख गर्न खोजिएको कुराचाहिँ नेपाल किन तटस्थ बस्यो ? तटस्थ बस्न हुने थियो या थिएन ? तटस्थताका सम्बन्धमा नेपालको अन्तरिम संविधान, २०६३ ले के संकेत गरेकोे छ ? भन्ने सम्बन्धमा हो ।

कुनै पनि विश्व मामिलामा तटस्थ बस्नुको मतलब नेपाली जनमानसमा प्रचलित उक्तिले ‘मौनम् सम्मति लक्षणम्’को अर्थभाव दर्शाउँछ । क्रिमियामा भएको जनमत संग्रहलाई मान्यता नदिन युक्रेनले गरेको अनुरोधको प्रसंगमा संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघले मतदानको व्यवस्था गरेको हुँदा यस मामिलामा तटस्थ बस्नुको मतलब युक्रेनको अनुरोध अस्वीकार गर्नु हो । युक्रेनको अनुरोध अस्वीकार गरी तटस्थ बस्नुको मनसाय क्रिमियाप्रति ‘साइलेन्ट भोट’ हालेको मान्न सकिन्छ । यद्यपि भारत तथा चीन पनि तटस्थ रह्यो । भारतले सिक्किमको र चीनले तिब्बतको प्रसंगलाई लिएर क्रिमिया मामिलामा तटस्थ बस्न बाध्य भएको विश्लेषण गर्न सकिन्छ । तर नेपालले के प्रसंगलाई लिएर तटस्थको नीति अपनायो ? यसको जवाफमा दुई कुरा हुनसक्छ । पहिलो, छिमेकी भारत र चीनले अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय रङ्गमञ्चमा जेजस्तो नीति लियो, नेपालले त्यही नीति लिने गर्छ । दोस्रो, विश्वका देशहरू टुट्ने, फुट्ने र जुट्ने प्रसंगमा अभिव्यक्त गर्ने नेपालको आफ्नो ठोस नीति नै छैन । जेजस्तो आइपर्छ, हचुवाको भरमा मतदानको संकटकाल घडी पार गर्छ । यस्तो संकटको घडीमा नेपाल कहिले सफल भएको छ भने अन्य कतिपय अवस्थामा विश्व रङ्गमञ्चमा नेपाल नराम्ररी पछारिएको छ । जे होस्, क्रिमियाको मामिलामा नेपालले कूटनीतिक विसन्चोपना देखाएको छ । कमजोर नीति भएका अथवा नीति नै नभएका देशहरूले देखाउने मानसिकता यही नै हो ।

नेपाल सर्वाभौमसत्ता सम्पन्न स्वतन्त्र राष्ट्र हो र नेपाल ‘टेरिटोरियल इन्टेगि्रटी’मा विश्वास राख्छ । यस पक्षमा नेपाल अडिग रहेको हो भने विश्वसमक्ष आफ्नो मौलिक नीति प्रदर्शन गर्न युक्रेनको मामिलामा नेपालले उसलाई मतदान गर्नुपर्ने हो । तर ‘निगेटिभ या पोजिटिभ भोटिङ’ नगरी क्रिमिया प्रायद्वीप मामिलामा तटस्थ रहन नहुने थियो ।

क्रिमिया समस्या सम्बन्धमा काठमाडौंस्थित अमेरिकी तथा रूसी पक्षधर कूटनीतिक संस्थाले नेपाललाई आ-आफ्नो पक्षमा आउन दबाब दियो । नेपालको क्रिमियाप्रतिको धारणाबारे परराष्ट्रमन्त्रीले सञ्चारकर्मीलाई जानकारी दिँदै भनेका थिए- ‘हामी युक्रेनेली जनताको सार्वभौम अधिकार र राष्ट्रिय अखण्डताको सम्मान गर्छौं । क्रिमियाली जनताले जनमत संग्रहबाट दिएको जनादेशको पनि सम्मान गर्छौं । तर एउटा मुलुकबाट फुटेर अर्कोमा जाने निर्णयको समर्थन गर्दैनौं । हाम्रो नीति अहस्तक्षेपकारी हो ।’ यस भनाइबाट पनि नेपालको कूटनीतिक विसन्चोपना दर्शन आउँछ । अर्को कुरा, परराष्ट्रमन्त्रीको यो भनाइ सर्वदलीय धारणा हो-होइन ? क्रिमिया समस्याबारे सबै दलका नेतासँग विचार-विमर्श गरी तय भएको राष्ट्रिय धारणा हो या होइन ? यो महत्त्वपूर्ण पक्ष हो । एउटा मन्त्रालयको सचिवको पदस्थापना गर्न सर्वदलीय धारणा राखेर अल्भिmने केन्द्रीय प्रशासनले क्रिमियाबारे नेपालको राष्ट्रिय नीति निर्धारण गर्न के कस्तो प्रक्रिया अपनायो ? यसैकारण सरकारले गरेको निर्णय विपक्षी दलले नमानेको हुँदा कार्यान्वयनमा आउन नसकेका धेरै उदाहरण छन् ।

अब लागौं नेपालको अन्तरिम संविधान, २०६३ ले क्रिमियाजस्तो मामिलामा तटस्थताका सम्बन्धमा के भन्न खोजेको छ ? संविधानको धारा ४ मा ‘नेपाल एक स्वतन्त्र, अविभाज्य, सार्वभौमसत्ता सम्पन्न राज्य हो, नेपालको क्षेत्र यो संविधान प्रारम्भ हुँदाका बखतको रहनेछ’ भन्ने उल्लेख भएको छ । यसैगरी धारा १५ (१) मा नेपाल राष्ट्रको अखण्डतामा खलल पर्नेगरी कानुन बनाउन रोक लगाइएको छ । धारा २५ (१) मा नेपालाई खण्डीकरण गर्न खोज्ने जोसुकैलाई पनि नजरबन्दमा राख्न सकिने र देशको अखण्डतालाई कायम राखी अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय जगतमा राष्ट्रिय सम्मानको अभिवृद्धि गर्नुपर्ने कुरा उल्लेख गरिएको छ । साथै धारा १४३ (१) मा नेपाल राज्यको सार्वभौमसत्ता, अखण्डतामा युद्ध, बाह्य आक्रमण, सशस्त्र विद्रोहका कारणले गम्भीर संकट उत्पन्न भएमा नेपाल सरकार मन्त्रिपरिषदले संकटकालीन अवस्थाको घोषणा गर्न सक्नेछ भन्ने प्रावधान राखिएको छ । संविधान अनुसार नेपालको सीमारेखाले घेरेको क्षेत्रफलमा कहिल्यै पनि कमी हुनदिन नहुने प्रावधान रहेकाले संघीय राज्य क्रिमिया युक्रेन राष्ट्रबाट छुट्टएिर जाँदा युक्रेनको ६ लाख ३ हजार ४ सय ७० वर्गकिलोमिटर क्षेत्रफलमा कमी आउने भएकोले नेपालको संविधानको मर्म र भावनाअनुरुप संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघमा मतदान हुँदा युक्रेनको क्षेत्रफल कमी नहुने पक्षमा नेपालले मतदान गर्नुपर्ने थियो । तर नेपालले मतदानमा भागै लिएन ।

यस्ता गम्भीर प्रकृतिको विश्व मामिलामा नेपालले भविष्यमा नीति निर्धारण गर्दा सन् २०११ मा सुडानबाट टुक्रिएर दक्षिण सुडान जन्मेको, १९९३ मा चेकोस्लाभाकिया चेक र स्लाभियामा टुक्रिएको, युगोस्लाभिया १९९१ मा ६ टुक्रामा विभाजन भएको, सिक्किम जनमत संग्रहको माध्यमद्वारा सन् १९७५ मा भारतमा विलय भएको, तिब्बत १९५९ मा चीनमा गाभिएको, २००८ मा कोसोभो नयाँ राष्ट्रका रूपमा जन्मिएको आदि घटना हृदयङ्गम गर्नुपर्छ । युक्रेनकै अर्को प्रदेश दोनेत्स्क किभबाट स्वतन्त्र भएको घोषणा २०१४ अपि्रल ७ मा भएको छ । अब मे ११ भन्दाअघि नै क्षेत्रीय सार्वभौमिकताका लागि त्यहाँ जनमत संग्रह गरिने घोषणा पनि भइसकेको छ । दोनेत्स्क मामिलामा संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघमा मतदान गर्नुपर्ने खण्ड आए नेपालले आफ्नो देशको संविधानको मानसिकताअनुरुप राष्ट्रिय नीति निर्धारण गर्दै त्यसै मुताबिकको कूटनीति अख्तियार गर्नुपर्छ ।


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