Crimean Tatars: Turkey Officially Condemns Persecution by Russia
Foreign Minister, Mevlut Çavuşoğlu, has denounced the increasing pressure on Crimean Tatars shown by Russian authorities. Speaking at the 24th African Union Summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, he said that Crimean Tatars have been facing ethnic and political persecution since Russia's annexation of the Crimea Peninsula in 2014.
Below is a report published in The Daily Sabah:
Çavuşoğlu's comments come after Deputy Chairman of the Crimean Tatar parliament, Ahtem Ciygoz, was taken into custody on Thursday [29 January 2015] by the Russian Federal Investigative Committee on suspicion of organizing "mass disorder" in front of Crimea's parliament.
Simferopol witnessed clashes on [26 February 2014] when Crimean Tatars and other pro-Ukrainian activists clashed with pro-Russian demonstrators. A referendum on the status of Crimea was held on [16 March 2014] in which a majority of the Crimean population voted to become part of the Russian Federation. The U.S. and EU denounced the referendum as illegitimate as the region was occupied by Russian soldiers at the time.
Although Turkey is among the countries opposed to Russia's annexation of Crimea and one that defends the territorial integrity of Ukraine, it did not implement the EU and U.S. economic sanctions imposed on Russia. Çavuşoğlu said Turkey had aired problems related to Crimean Tatars to Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Ankara on [1 December 2014], adding that the Turkey "did not see any positive developments in this regard." Russia had previously said that it is ready to grant ethnic and cultural rights to Crimean Tatars. "I hope these pressures will end and that Crimean Tatars will be given the rights that have been violated so far," Çavuşoğlu said.
According to the Foreign Ministry, there are 280,000 Crimean Tatars in Crimea; about 13 percent of the total population.
Over 35 African leaders met on Friday [30 January 2015] in Addis Ababa for the 24th Ordinary Session of the African Union's Heads of State and Government Summit. The two-day summit's theme was "Year of Women's Empowerment and Development toward Africa's Agenda 2063." Çavuşoğlu held a bilateral meeting with his Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus about regional and international developments. "Together with China and India, we are one of the three strategic partners of the African Union," Çavuşoğlu said. Turkey has been an observer state in the African Union since 2005 and has also been considered a strategic partner for the union since 2008.