Muslim Member of Parliament calls on Jordan to support Ukranians

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 Rustem Umerov a Muslim member of the Ukrainian parliament told AmmanNet that his country is hoping for a more “active” position in supporting Ukraine on the basis of territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders.

In an exclusive interview, Umerov explained his identity and his current role. “Personally, I am a Crimean Tatar, a Muslim, and I am a representative of Ukraine during the peace talks with Russia.” Umerov said that he held several meetings with top officials in Gulf countries, as a Special Envoy to the President of Ukraine in those countries. “Lately, we managed to bring the negotiation to Istanbul from Belarus. It is a positive sign. Turkey is an independent country and mediator for both Ukraine and Russia.”

Ukraine is home to a million Muslims, and we has always been an integral part of Ukrainian society.

Ukraine adopted last year a law on indigenous peoples, which clearly states that the Crimean Tatars (Muslims), Karaites, and Krymchaks, are the indigenous peoples of Ukraine. More than a million Muslims live in Ukraine. “We do not feel any chauvinism or islamophobia regarding our ethnicity or religion. Russian propagandists invented the narrative of dividing the Ukrainian nation into ethnics to justify their military actions on the territory of our country, the Muslim MP told AmmanNet.

Umerov was very clear as to what his country would like to see from the Arab and Muslim world. “Ukraine would also be grateful to Arab and Islamic countries for having a more active position in supporting our country and helping establish peace. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is in constant communication with world leaders. Ukrainian team is open to any suggestions, and we do not limit countries if they stick to the principles of territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders.

The Muslim MP denounced the continued Russian claims about his country. it’s crucial today to expose Russian propaganda fakes. Kremlin claims Ukraine has “neo-nazis” who do not tolerate any other nationalities. As a Crimean Tatar and Muslim, I assure you that’s not true. Ukraine has always been a multinational country. More than 100 representatives of different nationalities and confessions form the Ukrainian society. Each citizen of Ukraine has the same legal rights, regardless of ethnic, religious, political, or other affiliations.”

We are currently working on two essential dimensions. Firstly we are drifting a future collective agreement on security guarantees for Ukraine. We form the positions and frames of the document. After 2014 we have no trust in agreements without any mechanisms to implement guarantees from guarantors.  Ukraine is willing to sign a new agreement on security guarantees with the UN Permanent Security Council Members plus Turkey, Germany and those countries willing to join. These are not collective security guarantees but security guarantees specifically for Ukraine.

Guarantor countries should expect legal obligations in case of intervention, and upon ratification in Parliament, the approval of this treaty takes precedence over local legislation.

Another dimension of our work is releasing our people who have been captured and remain under the occupation by providing them humanitarian corridors to Ukrainian-controlled areas, medical support for wounded people, and exchange of prisoners of war. Currently, the situation in Mariupol is deteriorating. There is a humanitarian crisis; no food, no water, and no medicine. And Russian Federation continues bombardment of the city.

Regarding the status of wheat exports, Umerov explained the agriculture status of his country. “Ukraine produces up to a third of the world's sunflower seeds, 5% of barley, and 3% of wheat. The war in Ukraine will affect worldwide, as Ukrainian grain sales have currently stopped. Sunflower oil, flour, bread, and other strategic goods could rise by 20% worldwide.” Umerov said that last year, Ukrainian farmers had a record harvest in Ukrainian history of Ukraine — 106 million tons of grain and oilseeds. The vast majority of the grain remains in blocked Ukrainian ports or warehouses. 

He said that he is worried that the blockade has already started to affect the Middle East and African markets. “The Ukrainian government is now deciding how to transport agricultural goods to our partners. We consider the possibility of transporting grains by railway.”

The Ukrainian MP said he understood that Jordanian and Arab students have been affected by the war. “We hope soon we can welcome back our Jordanian students so that they can finish their education in Ukrainian universities.”

 

Read the entire interview word for word below

AmmanNet: What is the latest in the negotiations for a ceasefire

Umerov: Our online negotiation process is constantly ongoing at various levels and on multiple topics. Negotiations are complex. Especially after the witnessed horrific footage from Bucha, Borodyanka, Irpen, after all the stories from Mariupol. Russians there bury people in mass graves and burn their bodies in mobile crematoriums to hide evidence of war crimes.

 

We are currently working on two essential dimensions. Firstly we are drifting a future collective agreement on security guarantees for Ukraine. We form the positions and frames of the document. After 2014 we have no trust in agreements without any mechanisms to implement guarantees from guarantors.

 

Ukraine is willing to sign a new agreement on security guarantees with the UN Permanent Security Council Members plus Turkey, Germany, and those countries willing to join. These are not collective security guarantees but security guarantees specifically for Ukraine.

 

Guarantor countries should expect legal obligations in case of intervention, and upon ratification in Parliament, the approval of this treaty takes precedence over local legislation.

 

Another dimension of our work is releasing our people who have been captured and remain under the occupation by providing them humanitarian corridors to Ukrainian-controlled areas, medical support for wounded people, and exchange of prisoners of war. Currently, the situation in Mariupol is deteriorating. There is a humanitarian crisis; no food, no water, and no medicine. And Russian Federation continues bombardment of the city.

 

Today, thousands of injured people are in critical need of medical care in temporarily occupied territories. We are negotiating with the Russian side on releasing them. To pick up our wounded, we need to establish a ceasefire, which is being manipulated and not being carried out by the Russian side. They don’t respect the agreements. Russia is not reliable

 

There are a lot of media provocations today as if Ukraine is not willing to negotiate and is halting the process. As a member of the official negotiation team, I state that the Ukrainian side has two clears positions. First, Ukraine won’t give up a meter of its territory. Secondly: our negotiation team is focused on saving the lives of our people. The life and safety of our people and our territory — are our two main priorities.

 

AmmanNet: What do the people of Ukraine want to see coming from Jordan and the Arab world 

Umerov: Today Ukraine is supported by most civilized countries. And due to this reason, we need Jordan and Arab countries to support us. As a representative of Crimean Tatars, the indigenous people of Ukraine, I presume that we need more robust support from the countries of the Muslim world. Ukraine is home to a million Muslims, and we have always been an integral part of Ukrainian society. Ukraine crucially needs the world’s support in three positions.

 

First — we need weapons. Ukraine is a peaceful country. We need weapons not to attack but to protect our people and homes. Every day, the aggressor attacks us with the newest weapons; we have to fight back and defend our future and our children's future.

 

Secondly, we call on adopting a joint package of sanctions that will hit the Russian economy. Until Russia’s constant flow of money stops, this terrible war will continue.

 

Third, we need humanitarian aid: water, food, and medicine. More than 12 million Ukrainians have fled their homes from Russian missiles. People are left without homes, a steady income.

 

This war is not a conflict between our countries, not a "special operation," as Russia claims. Russia has launched an unprovoked war against an independent and sovereign state. Kremlin is violating the whole architecture of world security. It is bombing dozens of Ukrainian cities, destroying the civil infrastructure, and killing our people and children. More than 200 children have already died from Russian missiles.

 

AmmanNet: Jordanian students have left; when can we expect them to return to universities, and what will be the status of their education

 

Umerov: The enemy is constantly attacking civilian infrastructure. About a thousand educational institutions are damaged due to hostilities, 88 of which are utterly destroyed. In some parts of Ukraine, it may still be dangerous for students and professors to fully restore the educational process in universities.

 

The educational process is gradually being restored, online or offline, in the areas relatively safe and in the liberated territories.

 

The form of the educational process depends on the security situation in each region and must be agreed with the military administration of a particular area. As for now, we have resumed the educational process in 13 Ukrainian regions. In addition, more than 20 educational institutions managed to relocate from the occupied areas.

 

The Ukrainian government and parliament are doing their best to make the educational process as comfortable as possible. We hope soon we can welcome back our Jordanian students so that they can finish their education in Ukrainian universities.

 

AmmanNet: There are concerns about the delay or loss of imports in wheat and other areas from Ukraine; how do you answer those concerns

 

Umerov: Ukraine produces up to a third of the world's sunflower seeds, 5% of barley, and 3% of wheat. The war in Ukraine will affect worldwide, as Ukrainian grain sales have currently stopped. Sunflower oil, flour, bread, and other strategic goods could rise by 20% worldwide.

 

Last year, Ukrainian farmers had a record harvest in Ukrainian history of Ukraine — 106 million tons of grain and oilseeds. The vast majority of the grain remains in blocked Ukrainian ports or warehouses. It has already started to affect the Middle East and African markets. The Ukrainian government is now deciding how to transport agricultural goods to our partners. We consider the possibility of transporting grains by railway. The Ukrainian government also financially supports Ukrainian farmers to successfully deliver the upcoming sowing year. Ukrainian farmers are courageous, so they continue to work even during the war. Ukrainian farmers have started a sowing season in all regions except the Luhansk region. We plan to sow almost 70% of the land. Ukraine is and will be the world’s largest agricultural country.

 

AmmanNet: Some in the Arab world are worried about the exaggerated attention given by your president to Israel with little equal attention to the Arab region

 

Umerov: Holocaust — is a painful page in the history of Ukraine and Ukrainian Jews. During World War II, Nazis killed an estimated 150 thousand Jews, in Babi Yar (which is in Kyiv). And 80 years later history repeats itself — a month ago Russian missile hit the Babi Yar desecrating the memory of thousands of families whose grandparents never survived the Holocaust. Our President’s ancestors  by the way also witnessed the horrors of the Holocaust.

 

This is one of the main reasons we appeal to Israel. For 80 years leaders of the countries were repeating “never again” to the horrors of the Nazi regime. Today, Russia uses all Nazis’ methods and systematically destroys the peaceful Ukrainian population. And at the same time, Kremlin accuses the Ukrainians of being what they call “neo-nazis”.

 

This sounds ridiculous. Personally, I am a Crimean Tatar, a Muslim, and I am a representative of Ukraine during the peace talks with Russia. Before, I held several meetings with top officials in Gulf countries, as a Special Envoy to the President of Ukraine in those countries.

The Arab region is one of the priorities on our agenda. We want those countries to be today more proactive in supporting Ukraine.

 

AmmanNet: Is Turkey or any other Arab or Islamic capital a possibility for holding peace talks

Umerov: Ukraine and Turkey have a long history of close political, diplomatic, defense, and economic relations. For the last eight years, Turkey has been one of Ukraine’s biggest supporters worldwide: co-authoring & sponsoring UN, PACE resolutions, helping in releasing political prisoners from Russian prisons, constantly supporting the indigenous people of Ukraine, Crimean Tatars in humanitarian, infrastructure, and educational projects. Turkey provides humanitarian assistance to internally displaced people (IDP) and refugees.

 

Lately, we managed to bring the negotiation to Istanbul from Belarus. It is a positive sign. Turkey is an independent country and mediator for both Ukraine and Russia.

 

Ukraine would also be grateful to Arab and Islamic countries for having a more active position in supporting our country and helping establish peace. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is in constant communication with world leaders. Ukrainian team is open to any suggestions, and we do not limit countries if they stick to the principles of territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders.

 

AmmanNet: What would you like the people of Jordan and the Arab world to know?

Umerov: It’s crucial today to expose Russian propaganda fakes. Kremlin claims Ukraine has “neo-Nazi’s” who do not tolerate any other nationalities. As a Crimean Tatar and Muslim, I assure you that’s not true. Ukraine has always been a multinational country. More than 100 representatives of different nationalities and confessions form the Ukrainian society. Each citizen of Ukraine has the same legal rights, regardless of ethnic, religious, political, or other affiliations. Last year, Ukraine adopted a law on indigenous peoples, which clearly states that the Crimean Tatars (Muslims), Karaites, and Krymchaks, are the indigenous peoples of Ukraine.

 

More than a million Muslims live in Ukraine. We do not feel any chauvinism or islamophobia regarding our ethnicity or religion. Russian propagandists invented the narrative of dividing the Ukrainian nation into ethnics to justify their military actions on the territory of our country.

 

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