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March 19, 2014 04:19 PM

Want to understand the history of Crimea better? One scholar writing on the topic this week is John Quigley. The below essay can be found on the Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law, see http://wkly.ws/1ph

The current situation in Crimea can of course be analyzed from the standpoint of use of force under international law, but other aspects merit attention as well. In particular, if one approaches the situation from the dispute settlement angle, one can ask what the appropriate status of Crimea should be.
Crimea occupies a strange posture because of its history. It is territory that originally was populated by the Tatars, who were then overtaken by migrating Russians starting in the eighteenth century as the Russian Empire extended its reach southward. The Tatars regard the Russians much as the indigenous peoples of North America regard the Europeans who came to their territory and took it over. That relationship suffered even more during World War II. Because the Tatars harbored resentment against the Russians, the German invasion seemed to many Tatars a favorable development, but the response of the Soviet Government was to exile the Tatars en masse to Kazakhstan.
Nonetheless, Crimea was part of Russia through the nineteenth century. Because of its position on the Black Sea, it provided an ideal location for harboring Russia’s Navy. When the Soviet Union was formed in 1922 it was within what became the Russian republic of the USSR. Then in 1954 it was transferred into the Ukrainian republic, which may have been thought to make sense geographically. The population remained, and would remain, predominantly Russian, however.
When the USSR broke up, Crimea’s status became a hot button issue. The population feared losing its connection to Russia. If they were now foreigners as far as the new Russian Federation was concerned, what would happen to their pensions? Would their children be able to attend Russian universities? At that period the Ukrainian government welcomed back the Tatars. Grateful to the Ukraine, the returning Tatars provided a reason for Crimea to continue to be affiliated with Ukraine.
The parliament of Crimea declared Crimea to be independent, but then a status of autonomy was created for Crimea within Ukraine.
The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe became concerned that the fears of the Russians of Crimea over what they regarded as the anomalous presence of Crimea within an independent Ukraine might lead to hostilities between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The High Commissioner of the OSCE for national minorities undertook consultations by way of preventive diplomacy. Focusing on the possibility of a special status for Crimea within Ukraine, the CSCE appointed a three-person group – two lawyers and one economist – to facilitate dialogue between the authorities of Ukraine on the one side and Crimea on the other. I was one of the lawyers.
In my exchanges with officials of the Crimean parliament, I was constantly pressed to know why self-determination did not apply to Crimea. The sentiment of the population was rather clearly against a continued affiliation of any kind with Ukraine. Yet at the time, the Russian Federation did not seem prepared to engender the hostility with Ukraine that would ensue if the Russian Federation were to encourage Crimea to separate from Ukraine and become a part of the Russian Federation.
The recent changes in Kiev seem to be bringing into greater prominence a Rightist element organized around the Svoboda party. This element is not well disposed to Russians, instead insisting on strong Ukrainian nationalism. It was doubtless this element that prompted the Ukrainian parliament to nullify a 2012 Ukraine law that had given minority languages official status in regions of Ukraine where they are spoken. Under the 2012 law, Russian had been designated an official language in sectors of eastern Ukraine, and in Crimea. The nullification of the 2012 law came just after the parliament voted Victor Yanukovych out of office as president and seemed that it might poise Ukraine on a trajectory that would result in discrimination against the Russians of Ukraine. That move frightened the Russian speakers in Crimea. It was also a challenge to President Vladimir Putin, to whom the Crimeans look for protection.
The language issue, moreover, had implications for Russia-Ukraine legal relations. Russia and Ukraine have a Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership, dating from 31 May 1997. In Article 12, “The High Contracting Parties guarantee the ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious identity of national minorities on their territories and shall create the conditions for the encouragement of this identity.” That clause was inserted at Russia’s insistence, precisely to protect Ukraine’s Russian speakers. The 2012 law was later restored when Ukraine’s new president vetoed the parliament’s action, but the veto came too late to allay the fears of Russian speakers as to the direction of Ukraine’s new government.
The existence of this treaty clause makes Ukraine’s treatment of its Russia minority an issue that implicates the treaty rights of the Russian Federation.
The Russians of Crimea see themselves as being in a posture not unlike that of the Albanians of Kosovo, as that group perceived itself, in 1999. That situation led to military intervention that secured separation. While differences may to be sure be found between the two situations, the Russians of Crimea do, in the main, fear for their future within Ukraine.
The Crimea parliament voted on March 6 to separate from Ukraine and to join Russia. It in fact indicated that the separation is effectively immediately. Nonetheless, it has scheduled a referendum vote for the population of Crimea for March 16. The ballot will ask voters to choose whether to join Russia, or to remain in the autonomy status in Ukraine under the Ukraine constitution. The vote may well go strongly in favor of affiliation with Russia. The Government of the Russian Federation has not indicated whether it would accept Crimea, but in the Russian Duma, parliamentarians are indicating they will address the issue.
The majlis – the legislative body representing the Tatars of Crimea – has indicated it does not recognize the recent actions of the Crimea parliament as legitimate. The Tatars may boycott the referendum. They oppose affiliation with Russia. If Crimea does affiliate with Russia, the Government of Russia will need to move proactively to assure the Tatars that their status will be protected.
Affiliation with Russia, if it comes about, is likely to be regarded by the Western powers as a product of Russian aggression. They might deem the affiliation invalid, an outcome that could result in uncertainty as to Crimea’s status and potential difficulties for its inhabitants.
Self-determination is a concept whose implementation in the international community has been inconsistent. Given the history of the territory, the population of Crimea has a plausible claim to self-determination. If Crimea remains within Ukraine, it may be an irritant between Russia and Ukraine for a long time to come. It could well be to the interest of Ukraine that Crimea affiliate with Russia. The Government of Ukraine does not see the matter that way, to be sure. It regards the action of the Crimea parliament and the scheduled referendum as unlawful under the Ukraine constitution. It will also point out that Russia has agreed to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Whatever the outcome, it is important that the Western powers, Ukraine, and Russia all refrain from regarding the Crimea question through the lens of geopolitics at the world level. The issue should not be whether President Putin or President Obama emerges a winner. The focus should be on the welfare of the population of Crimea.

March 18, 2014 03:03 PM

This video promotes a specific mutual fund at the end, but there are others that can help you divest from fossil fuel industries that contribute to climate change. We got this video from EnvironmentOregon.org.

March 18, 2014 12:31 PM

Another busy road repair season is under way in Eugene. Here's the latest press release from city Public Works on which streets are to be avoided:

Wildish Construction began mobilizing equipment on Goodpasture Loop in north Eugene late last work and work began Monday on sidewalk access ramp installations and repairs. The sidewalk work will be followed by a pavement overlay the full length of the loop and some reconstruction work in the commercial area on the north end of the loop. Work on that project is projected to be completed by mid-May.

Over the next several months 17 major street repair projects are scheduled around the city. The projects include: 1st Avenue (Washington to Van Buren), 13th Avenue (Bertelsen to Commerce), 13th Avenue (Washington to Garfield), 43rd Avenue (North Shasta to Dillard), 46th Avenue (Donald to Willamette), Broadway (Mill to Pearl), Coburg Road (Ferry Street Bridge to 50 feet south of EWEB off-ramp), Donald Street (46th to Fox Hollow). Firland (Spring to Agate), Goodpasture Loop Road, Interior Street (north end of cul-de-sac to south end of improved section), Madison Street (1st to 8th), Marshall (Hughes to Echo Hollow), Monroe Street (1st to Blair), Olive Street (11th to 13th), Roosevelt Boulevard (Danebo to Terry), and Shasta Loop (Spring Boulevard to 43rd), as well as 20 residential street segments that will receive slurry seal treatments.

Crews from Eugene Water & Electric Board, Northwest Natural and other utilities have been working for months to adjust their utilities before the City begins its road work. One stretch that's recently been under construction by EWEB is 13th Avenue from Garfield to Washington streets. That road repair project is scheduled to begin in mid-April and will include reconstructing much of the existing roadway.

Total preliminary estimated cost of the 17 street projects is approximately $9.5 million. The primary sources of funding for the street repair projects are the bond measure to fix streets approved by Eugene voters in 2012 and Eugene's local gas tax.

In addition to road work, a variety of bond-funded pedestrian and bicycle improvements will be constructed, and work will continue on the Amazon Creek stabilization project between Chambers and Arthur streets. In the parks category, renovations are planned at Amazon Park and Spencer Butte Summit Trail.

Local residents are encouraged to follow the progress of projects that may affect their travel routes. To get more details about Eugene projects planned for 2014, visit www.eugene-or.gov/pwprojects or follow EugenePW on Twitter. For regional traffic updates, including LTD's west Eugene EmX project as well as projects by ODOT, Lane County, Eugene and Springfield, go to www.keepusmoving.info.

March 14, 2014 04:46 PM

This news just in today from School District 4J:

The Eugene School District and the Eugene Family YMCA are moving forward to consider if the Roosevelt Middle School site could also be the Y’s future home.
 
Superintendent Shelley Berman is recommending that the Eugene School Board initiate a public process to consider whether to sell, lease or trade a portion of the Roosevelt Middle School site to the Y.  The district is planning to replace Roosevelt Middle School by constructing a new school west of the current building. Once the older building is removed from the southwest corner of Hilyard Street and East 24th Avenue, the district could either convert the area to soccer fields or offer up to seven acres to the YMCA for recreation facilities.
 
“Roosevelt and the YMCA could be great next door neighbors,” said Berman.  “We both see advantages for our students, families and the community. It’s now time to put this idea on the table for both organizations.”
 
The Y provides youth activity programs in schools throughout Eugene as well as at their south Eugene facility. “We have long partnered with the school district to help kids be healthy, active, and engaged in positive and enriching activities,“ said Julie Grossman, associate executive director for the Y.  “Moving forward with plans to replace our aging facilities will ensure that the Y can continue that mission and expand services to kids and families for years to come.”
 
Initial design concepts for a new Roosevelt Middle School building will be presented for community comment at a public meeting Tuesday, April 1 from 5:30-7 p.m. in the school cafeteria.  Some options will show a footprint and parking for a new YMCA while other options will show soccer fields instead. A YMCA facility would be compatible with current PL-Public Lands zoning of the property.
 
In the coming weeks, the Eugene School Board will consider expanding the criteria used in deciding whether to sell, trade or lease district property as well as whether to move ahead to offer property to the Y.  A public hearing on the proposal to offer a portion of the Roosevelt site to the YMCA will be scheduled for May 7 and the school board will make on decision on May 21, under the timeline that will be presented at the Wednesday, March 19 school board meeting.  The terms of any sale, lease or property exchange would then be negotiated, however, both parties expect to discuss the parameters for such an agreement over the next two months.  A final agreement could be ready for school district and YMCA approval in June.

March 7, 2014 02:39 PM

March 7, 2014 03:19 PM

This is a lovely ad campaign for PDX, but we imagine such a video promoting Eugene might look a little different.

February 24, 2014 05:22 PM

February 24, 2014 05:38 PM

February 12, 2014 02:04 PM

February 12, 2014 05:36 PM

February 10, 2014 02:50 PM

Former Eugene resident making great music in Nashville.

February 6, 2014 04:13 PM

February 3, 2014 04:40 PM