Turkey, Russia seek ‘legitimate’ route to Crimea for Turkish delegation

Turkey, Russia seek ‘legitimate’ route to Crimea for Turkish delegation

Sevil Erkuş - sevil.erkus@hurriyet.com.tr ANKARA
Turkey, Russia seek ‘legitimate’ route to Crimea for Turkish delegation

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. AA Photo

An unofficial Turkish delegation is set to visit Crimea to examine alleged human rights violations against Crimean Tatars, but the visit is being delayed until Ankara and Moscow can determine a route for the commission so that Turkey does not imply recognition of Russian control of the peninsula.

Turkey and Russia have principally agreed on the visit to Crimea, but talks are still ongoing regarding the delegation’s route plan and the timing of the visit, Russian sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Officials have discussed options of traveling through Ukraine or directly arriving on the peninsula.

Ankara has intentionally formed a delegation consisting of academics and retired politicians so that it is not perceived to recognize the region’s disputed administration.

During a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Turkey last year, Ankara proposed to Moscow to send a delegation to the peninsula to evaluate the situation of the Crimean Tatars.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu earlier said Turkey have given Russia a list of 100 Crimean Tatars, who, according to Ankara’s information, have been subjected to attacks or harassment or have disappeared without a trace.

“A detailed list of the incidents was presented to [the Russians]. We have not seen positive developments on this issue. The pressure on Crimean Tatars is increasing,” Çavuşoğlu said in January.

Shortly after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster from power in 2014, Russia installed a new local government in Simferopol and declared a referendum on Crimea’s political future.

The peninsula opted for annexation by Russia in the referendum, but the vote was not recognized by Kyiv or Western powers.

Since Russia’s seizure of the peninsula, Turkey has been seeking to maintain a balanced policy on Crimea so as not to derail its relations with Moscow, although Ankara has openly declared that it will not recognize the annexation.