Study Visit to Glasgow by Ukrainian Policy Experts – Feb-Mar 2016

In 2015 Central and East European Studies was awarded £6634 under the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA). The first part of the IAA initiative involved a one-week visit to Scotland (28 February-6 March 2016) by two policy experts from Ukraine working on minority rights. The experts were: Aziz Demirdzhaiev, who has worked as local representative for the office of the OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities and for the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions; and Yulia Tyshchenko, who heads the National Minorities section of one of the country's largest policy think tanks, and regularly engages in dialogue with policy makers in Ukraine.

During the week the University of Glasgow team outlined to the visitors some of the preliminary findings drawn from the project’s core case studies and discussed the potential applicability of practices of non-territorial autonomy to Ukraine's current reform process. During the study visit, the University of Glasgow team was also joined by Graham Donnelly. Among other things, the study visit led to a working paper on the autonomy structures of the Crimean Tatars, co-authored with by Demirdzhaiev and Donnelly (forthcoming, 2017).

A further strand of the activity was to acquaint our visitors with Scotland's experience in the area of devolution and accommodation of ethnic and linguistic diversity, though meetings with the following:

• The International Affairs section of the Scottish Parliament
• Beyond Borders Scotland (an Edinburgh-based NGO working on peace-building dialogue and conflict regulation)
• The former and current UK representatives to the Committee of Experts on the Council of Europe's European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages
• The Glasgow Gaelic School


Aziz Demirdzhaiev
Aziz Demirdzhaiev works for the NGO ‘Ukraine without Barriers’, and since January 2016 he has worked as an expert on Ukraine for the Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM). In 2014-2015 he was the OSCE HCNM projects assistant on Ukraine, providing support to the Office of HCNM in the implementation of projects in Ukraine (on language legislation, reform of state institutions on national minorities and the implementation of the school tolerance programme ‘Culture of Neighbourhood’). In addition, Demirdzhaiev has closely cooperated with Ukrainian state bodies on ethnic policy, MPs representing national communities and human rights NGOs. He has dealt with issues concerning internally displaced persons, and legal reform in Ukraine (constitutional reform, the decommunisation process and the rehabilitation of Crimean Tatars). Demirdzhaiev has further worked as National Minorities Analyst Assistant to OSCE ODIHR Elections Observation Missions to Ukraine during the Ukrainian Presidential elections of April-May 2014, the Parliamentary elections of October 2014, and the local elections of September-December 2015. In 2013-2014 he was a lawyer in the town of Saky of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, for the Interdistrict Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine.

Yulia Tyshchenko
Yulia Tyshchenko has worked on various projects and initiatives in the Ukrainian NGO Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR), and as a consultant for Crisis Management Initiative (CMI - Ahtysaary Center) on the situation in Ukraine. In 2014-2015 Tyshchenko was the head of monitoring projects on developments in Crimea with the UNDP and OSCE: she carried out monitoring and research in the field of language policy, and provided institutional support on ethnic policy (projects ‘Protection and Information: Lack of Social and Political Rights of Citizens of Ukraine in Crimea’, and ‘Respect for the Rights of Minorities in the Education Environment in Crimea: Monitoring, Communication and Response’ – both supported by UNDP). She was an expert for a project on Crimean political dialogue and peace-building managed by the International Institute PATRIR, and, in 2012-2013, the head of the project ‘Society and the Problem of Protection from Discrimination: Expert Opinion’. In 2006-2012 she was the project director for ‘Management of Inter-Ethnic Relations in Crimea (Ukraine/TIER (Training in Inter-Ethnic Relations) Crimea Phases I-IV project’, of the Office of the OSCE HCNM. She also worked at the National Institute for Strategic Studies, the Administration of the President and the Office of the National Security Council and Defence as a consultant on inter-ethnic relations and the situation in Crimea. Tyshchenko specialises in inter-ethnic relations, combating discrimination, inter-cultural dialogue, development of civil society institutions, domestic political processes, electoral system studies and analysis of public governance.

Graham Donnelly
Graham Donnelly is completing a PhD at CEES and has written principally on issues surrounding the EU’s impact on the minority rights agendas of its neighbours. He collaborates with a number of organisations working in the former Soviet space, including: the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre in London; the European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) in both Flensburg and Tbilisi, and the Ethnic Minorities Law Centre in Glasgow. For ECMI Donnelly has assisted in the preparation of a consultation response on behalf of the Eastern Partnership Minorities Network (co-organised by ECMI, Tbilisi, along with Minority Rights Group Europe, in Budapest) to the European Commission's review of the European Neighbourhood Policy. Additionally, Donnelly spent several months on secondment as a researcher at the Scottish Government’s DG External Affairs. He works freelance with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission.


Ukraine working papers

Two working papers on Ukraine were compiled under the project.

Territorial-Administrative Decentralisation and Ethno-Cultural Diversity in Ukraine: Addressing Hungarian Autonomy Claims in Zakarpattya. It was published by the Centre for Minority Issues in September 2016
This paper was prepared in cooperation with a Ukraine-based expert, Mariana Semenyshyn. Shemenyshyn worked with the OSCE HCNM on issues connected with the Hungarian minority in western Ukraine, and is currently working for Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Kyiv. The paper was co-authored with David Smith.

A second working paper is being compiled by Aziz Demirdzhaiev and Graham Donnelly, on the autonomy structures of the Crimean Tatars, particularly in light of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Revisiting historical debates on NCA: Paul Schiemann

In 2013-16, Smith participated in a joint initiative by UK-based Latvian emigres and liberal political circles in Latvia to translate John Hiden’s 2004 work Defender of Minorities: Paul Schiemann 1876-1944 into Latvian and Russian, in order to bring it more fully to the attention of policymakers and the wider public in Latvia. Activists in Latvia and the UK have recently revisited key arguments arising from David Smith and John Hiden’s previous historically-based research on NCA in the Baltic, carried out as part of their joint AHRC-funded Research Project during 2003-2008. 

Paul Schiemann – dubbed by his contemporaries as ‘the thinker of the European minorities movement’ – was a Latvian German politician and international minority rights activist who was one of the leading proponents of NTCA during the inter-war period. The initiative to translate Hiden’s acclaimed biography (awarded the bi-annual book prize of the US-based Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies in 2006) was based on the contention that Schiemann’s writings on tolerance, pluralism, ethnic coexistence and European needed to be more widely known and discussed in today’s Latvia. 

Smith assisted in securing the translation rights to Hiden’s book and advised on a project that received support and financial backing from individuals and organisations representing both ethnic communities in Latvia, as well as a number of international sources. Those contributing included the Latvian Ministry of Culture, Riga City Council, a former Prime Minister, a former President, the current Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Museum of Occupation. On 27 February 2016, the translations of Hiden’s work were launched during an event at the Latvian parliament, hosted by the current Speaker. Copies of the book were distributed to all 100 members of parliament. The following day Smith was an invited to be a keynote speaker at a well-attended public seminar organised as part of a further launch event at Riga City Council. Present among others was a former Foreign Minister and the Head of the local chapter of Transparency International. The translation of Hiden’s book forms part of a wider initiative by the same circles to draw greater public attention to what are termed ‘the Silent Heroes of Latvia’.

Smith also revisited these themes in two chapters of a recent edited publication:

Smith, D. J. (2017) State, nation and sovereignty in a century of uncertainty and change: turning points and continuities in Latvian society and polity. In: Smith, D. J. (ed.) Latvia - A Work in Progress? One Hundred Years of State- and Nation-Building. Series: Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society. ibidem-Verlag: Stuttgart, pp. 11-28. ISBN 9783838206486

Smith, D. J. (2017) Why remember Paul Schiemann? In: Smith, D. J. (ed.) Latvia - A Work in Progress? One Hundred Years of State- and Nation-Building. Series: Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society. ibidem-Verlag: Stuttgart, pp. 71-90. ISBN 9783838206486