Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tatarstan Failed to Fight for Treaty Extension and Now Moscow will Target Tatar Language, Kazan Professor Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 23 – It is clear that the Kremlin has no intention of extending the power-sharing agreement between Moscow and Kazan but instead will take its lapse as an occasion to launch a broad new attack on the Tatar language and culture, according to Midkhat Farukshin.

            But it is also clear that the Tatarstan elite and the Tatar population are to blame for this state of affairs because they did not use the treaty when it did exist to create specific legal arrangements and because they didn’t fight for its extension lest they anger Moscow, the Kazan professor says (

            During the ten years that the first extension of the treaty was in force, Kazan did not insist that Russia ratify the accord and still worse did not use the opportunity to make specific institutional arrangements limiting themselves to a few symbols and many generalities, the Kazan philosopher argues.

            As a result, he continues, “there is not one legal norm by which Tatarstan could be considered independent of Russia and not subordinate to Russian law, at least from the point of view of international law,” Farukshin says, adding that “it is an historic fact that there is no independence.”

            It was “a big mistake” that the Tatarstan authorities did not say anything about the specific delimitation of authorities over that decade. “There was not a single proposal, and as a result, things did not move forward.” Kazan could have demanded control over its educational system and especially over languages in the schools, but in fact it didn’t do so.

            The professor agrees with his interlocutor that “the Tatarstan authorities did not try particularly hard to achieve the extension of the treaty.” As he points out, “there were no open declarations” about that, with the State Council talking only about the need to create a join commission “without a single word about the treaty.”

            And the World Congress of Tatars, which might have been expected to press Moscow on this issue, in fact behaved “very cautiously” since apparently Moscow had already signaled that it wouldn’t tolerate anything else.  Tatars should have spoken openly and made demands because “silence is a mark of agreement.”

            Unfortunately, now that the treaty has lapsed, there is little chance that Kazan will do anything to revive it.  “The authorities of the republic will remain quiet; they won’t take any steps,” Farukshin says, given that at present they don’t have any means to put pressure on the federal center.

            A decade ago, “the attack of the federal center on the republic began;” now, it will intensify and be directed against the Tatar language.  The Kazan elites aren’t fighting this as they should, he suggests, and “the people is also neutral” because the 2007 treaty “didn’t take its interests into consideration and so the people are indifferent.”

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