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A choice isn't a choice when it is made with a gun to your head: British Ambassador Carolyn Browne

17 march 2014, 15:18
0

A choice isn't a choice when it is made with a gun to your head, British Ambassador to Kazakhstan Dr. Carolyn Browne told Tengrinews in an exclusive interview about the Crimean referendum.

This Sunday Crimea was voting in a referendum trying to make an "impossible choice: to vote to become subjugated by Russia; or to vote for independence - with no guarantee that Russia will show any more respect for the sovereignty of an independent Crimea". This is a loosing situation for Crimea, the Ambassador believes, as "the odds are clearly stacked in Russia's favour - like the toss of a coin. Heads Russia wins. Tails Crimea loses."

The voting resulted in an overwhelming 95.5 percent majority choosing to secede from Ukraine. And today Crimea is formally applying to join Russia while Europe and the United State stand ready to hit Moscow with a wave of sanctions in the worst East-West stand-off since the Cold War.

Great Britain’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Kazakhstan Carolyn Browne. Photo courtesy of talish.info

Great Britain’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Kazakhstan Carolyn Browne. Photo courtesy of talish.info

"For the last two decades, we have sought to put the tension and mistrust of the Cold War behind us: to recognise the powerful and positive contribution Russia brings to the international community - and to the prosperity of all our people. A web of international agreements and institutions has been put in place both to help avoid repeating the bitter confrontations of the past and to settle disputes peacefully. Organisations like the OSCE and Council of Europe, of which Russia is an integral member, exist to help states address questions of self-determination and defend the rights of minorities. But, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe - the standard bearer of electoral integrity - has declared that the referendum will be illegal and will not send observers to the poll," Dr. Carolyn Browne said.

Explaining the reasons why the Western community views the vote to be illegal she said: "The vote - whatever its outcome - is both illegal and unconstitutional: there can be absolutely no doubt about that. The terms of the Ukrainian constitution are unequivocal: the vote can only be convened at the request of three million citizens; it must be an all-Ukraine referendum; and it can only be called by the Ukrainian Parliament. None of these conditions have been met."
 
1.5 million voters voted in the Sunday Crimea referendum, which makes only a half of the voters required for an all-Ikrainian referendum to be legitimate. The voter turnout made 82.71% according to head of the Crimean Referendum Commission Mikhail Malyshev.
 

People cast their vote at a polling station on March 16, 2014 in Simferopol. ©AFP

People cast their vote at a polling station on March 16, 2014 in Simferopol. ©AFP

The Ambassador supports the shared opinion of British Prime-Minister David Cameron and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev that the Ukrainian crisis should be settled peacefully. "The vote will be illegitimate. How can a ballot held in the shadow cast by the presence of armed Russian troops, in a region under military occupation, be anything else?" she said.

"It will have no legal effect. It will have no moral force. And the result will not be recognised by the international community. It should not go ahead," the Ambassador concluded, summarising the British attitude towards the Crimean referendum.

Dr Carolyn Browne is a British diplomat, currently Ambassador to Kazakhstan.

She joined HM Diplomatic Service in 1985. From 1988-1991 she was a First Secretary in Moscow. From 1993-1997 she was at the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations. From 2002-2005 she worked for the Permanent Representatives of the United Kingdom to the European Union.

In 2007 she became the Ambassador to Azerbaijan. She was appointed to Kazakhstan in July 2012 and she took up the post in January 2013. 


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