Ukrainian envoy says Crimean Tatars expect Turkey’s help

Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Korsunsky. (Photo: Today's Zaman, Ali Ünal)
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Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey Sergiy Korsunsky has said Ukraine is housing Crimean Tatars who escaped the Russian invasion of the peninsula and called on Turkey to increase support to the Tatars.

The ambassador stressed in a recent interview with the Cihan news agency that Crimean Tatars have been going through tough times due to the invasion and said they expect Turkey's help. He added that Ukraine already houses almost 10,000 Crimean Tatars.

Turkey has watched the developments warily due to its concerns over the fate of Crimea's ethnically Turkic Tatar community, but it has followed a balanced policy with Russia, its key energy supplier. When Russia annexed Crimea, Turkey reiterated the importance of preserving Ukraine's territorial integrity, political unity and sovereignty -- a sign of its opposition to the secession of Crimea. However, it refrained from directly confronting Moscow, preferring to call for dialogue toward a resolution.

Korsunsky recalled the ban on Crimean Tatar leader and Ukrainian parliament deputy Mustafa Abdülcemil Kırımoğlu and Crimean Tatar Mejlis leader Refat Chubarov's entry into Crimea, and said the Russian government would prefer not to work with them and tries to suggest new Crimean leaders.

The ambassador underscored that Crimean Tatars want to return to and live in Crimea once more and said the peninsula will hopefully be under Ukrainian rule in a couple of years' time.

During a recent visit to Ankara, Kırımoğlu said Turkey should follow the West and impose sanctions on Russia. Before a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Nov. 25, Kırımoğlu said the Western sanctions on Russia would not work if some countries continue to trade with Russia to benefit from the opportunity to trade caused by the sanctions.

Ambassador Korsunsky's remarks came after Russian President Vladimir Putin's one-day visit to Turkey on Monday.

During the joint press conference, Putin did not mention the Crimea issue.

“We discussed the Crimean Tatars in detail,” said Erdoğan, adding that Russia has taken note of the fact that Turkey sides with the Crimean Tatars.

However, Erdoğan said he found Russia's approach to the Crimean Tatars “positive,” and that he was given assurances that certain rights will be provided to Crimean Tatars. Erdoğan said Russia has already called Crimean Tatars' language an official language and is ready to address other issues regarding the Turkic group.

Putin's visit saw protests in Ankara and İstanbul in support of Crimean Tatars. Members of the Ankara-based Crimean Turks Culture and Solidarity Association protested the visit with banners reading “Occupier Russia, get out of Crimea” and “Russia, get your hands off Crimea.”

The head of the Crimean Turks Culture and Solidarity Association, Tuncer Kalkay, called on Turkey to take a position with the “civilized world” against Putin.

Similar protests took place in İstanbul as well, with another group protesting both Russia's policies in Crimea and Putin's visit to Turkey, carrying banners calling Putin a “murderer.” According to the Turkish media, about 50 children from the Caucasus region, including Chechnya, also protested Putin's visit.

Source: Today's Zaman

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