BERIL – Conceptual confusion

Conceptual confusionEveryone is aware that the world has changed, and it is no longer possible to interpret world events using old concepts. However, many people still insist on using old concepts to explain new situations.

By old concepts, I mean those we find in international law textbooks or official texts written by states for states. This sometimes creates much confusion.

What is the best way to describe Mahmoud Abbas? When one says he is the president of the Palestine, someone might respond by saying Palestine is not a real state. We can’t say he is the representative of the Palestinian people, as it is obvious he does not represent all Palestinians.

Maybe it would be best to call him “Palestine’s representative,” but this qualification does not exist in international law. It is true that Abbas is received like a head of state when he makes an official visit to a foreign country, but, according to existing international law, he is no different from Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas.

Palestine is not considered a state by everyone. It has, however, a flag that many countries have recognized.

When you use this flag in a demonstration, nobody tells you that it is an illegal object, and no one accuses those who carry this flag of being terrorists.By the way, the term “terrorist” is quite complicated.

No one really knows who can be called a “terrorist” according to international law, or what kind of activities can be considered counterterrorism activities. That’s why states consider themselves free to call anybody they don’t like a “terrorist.

”There are many players in the international scene that states call separatist, or pro-“something.” It is perhaps easier to understand who separatists are.

The Ukrainian government in Kiev has called Crimeans separatists, for example. In the case of the Crimean Peninsula, one can’t say that Crimeans have suddenly decided to abandon Ukraine.

Instead, Russia decided it was a good time to separate Crimea from Ukraine and asked its partisans in Ukraine to hold a referendum In fact, the game Russia played was admissible according to international law, even if it was wrong politically. We also hear a lot about pro-Russians in Ukraine.

It is not like these are Ukrainians who like Russia These pro-Russians are, as a matter of fact, Russian. They are Russians who live in Ukraine.

A few days ago I was astonished to hear on the news that someone called Igor Strelkov was being described as the “defense minister” of Ukraine’s pro-Russians. One could believe that Russian people who live in the eastern provinces of Ukraine have already established a recognized state with a legitimate government and defense minister Even in many old states, like in Germany or Belgium, forming a government can take a long time.

How has the Russian minority in Ukraine managed to form their own government in the middle of all this turmoil?The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) has had its own parliament, government and president for many decades. This state has not been recognized by anybody but Turkey.

Ukraine’s Russians were luckier, apparently, as they have already been recognized by some in Western media who believe they have a “defense minister”As a matter of fact, in the Middle East, even Barzani has his own defense minister Those who want to have good relations with Barzani or Ukraine’s Russians will naturally employ the concepts, terms and designations these people use for themselves.It is not that important that the concepts we are using are accepted by international law.

What is important is the perception: how the international community perceives political leaders, organizations and so on. The use of particular concepts is not entirely innocent, however They very effectively give us clues about which country supports whom in the international arena.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman