Turkey to send team to monitor status of Crimean Tatars
KYIV - Anadolu Agency
A woman shouts slogans during a demonstration on National Unity Day in Moscow Nov. 4, 2014. The sign reads, “Russia and Crimea are together forever”. REUTERS PhotoTurkey is planning to send an unofficial delegation to inspect the situation for Crimean Tatars in the Russian-annexed peninsula, Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said on Nov. 10.
“Turkey is closely following the situation of the Crimean Tatars, who are unfortunately being repressed by a de facto administration,” Çavuşoğlu said at a joint press conference with his Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin, after attending a Turkey-Ukraine Joint Strategic Planning Group meeting in Kyiv.
Ukraine’s Crimean Tatars make up roughly 13 percent of the Crimean population. The peninsula opted for annexation with Russia in a referendum on March 16, a vote not recognized by Kyiv and Western powers.
“Turkey will never recognize Crimea’s annexation,” Çavuşoğlu stressed, adding that talks were ongoing with Ukrainian officials to find ways to help Crimean Tatars.
He also reiterated Turkey’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, including Crimea, and thanked Kyiv for the support it had extended to Crimean Tatars.
“Turkey has always supported Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Klimkin said, thanking Çavuşoğlu for backing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s plan to resolve the situation in the eastern part of the country, where the conflict between government forces and pro-Russian separatists has escalated.
Çavuşoğlu called for “direct dialogue” between Moscow and Kyiv, which should be strengthened on the basis of a permanent cease-fire, in line with the Minsk agreement of Sept. 5.
The agreement, which was signed after extensive talks between Russia, Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), implemented an immediate cease-fire that failed to stop fighting in the eastern regions of the country.
The stalemate in Ukraine between the government and the separatists has left more than 4,000 dead and over 9,000 wounded since April.
During his visit to Kyiv, Çavuşoğlu was also received by Poroshenko, who called on Turkey to aid the protection of Crimean Tatars’ rights, according to a statement issued by the Ukrainian Presidency on Nov. 10.
Poroshenko stressed the leaders of the Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov, were still not being allowed to enter Crimea.
He also expressed hope that Turkey would support “the international position on the reaction to Russia’s violation of its international obligations in the sphere of human rights.”
Poroshenko thanked Turkey for supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and said Ukraine was developing a strategy to reintegrate the occupied territories.
“This includes creating a free trade zone and holding local elections. We expect our international partners to support this strategy,” he said.
Çavuşoğlu and Poroshenko also agreed that the next session of the Ukrainian-Turkish High Level Strategic Council would be held in Kyiv at the beginning of 2015, with the participation of Poroshenko and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“Turkey is also ready to attend the conference of donors and investors for Ukraine at the beginning of next year,” Çavuşoğlu said.