Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (Image: QHA)
In a message to the Second World Congress of Crimean Tatars now meeting in Ankara, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said today that “Ukraine will never in any circumstances accept the violation of the rights of the Crimean Tatar people to live freely on their own land.”
“Six years have passed since the first such congress,” he continued, “which took place on the historical motherland of the Crimean Tatars and was animated by high expectations that that nation was on its way to “national rebirth and the restoration of ties between the representatives of a people torn apart by the imperial policy of the Kremlin.”
Now, unfortunately, the Ukrainian leader continued, the second congress “is taking place under conditions of the temporary occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation” and when “the Crimean Tatar people is again being subjected to terror and tens of thousands of Crimeans are being forced to save themselves from this new threat.”
Ukraine, together with its international partners, Poroshenko said, “will devote all its efforts to restore legality on the peninsula and the return of Ukrainian power to Crimea.” He added that Kyiv is working on “’a road map’ to offer Crimea, the historical motherland of the Crimean Tatar people the status of a national-territorial autonomy within the Ukrainian state.”
In his message to the Ankara meeting, the Ukrainian president also thanked Turkey, which has sent an official representative to the congress, and the Crimean Tatar diaspora from around the world for their “unqualified support of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine” in the face of Russian aggression.
Mejlis President Refat Chubarov’s opening speech to the Congress echoed these ideas. He noted that “the historic Motherland of the Crimean Tatars – Crimea – had been occupied by Russia and that the Crimean Tatar people had been subject to repressions.”
“Tsarist Russia and the USSR are guilty of the fact that at present a large number of Crimean Tatars are living not in the Motherland” but dispersed throughout the world, Chubarov said. “Despite repressions by Russia, the Crimean Tatars will never accept its policy and are struggling against it. The Crimean Tatars have great experience in such a struggle.”
Today, the Crimean Tatar leader continued, the Russians are “destroying the Crimean Tatar people and destroying the national media.” But they will not succeed because “we will never accept the occupation of Crimea by Russia. The entire world must know that the Crimean Tatars are not a numerically small people but the native people of Crimea!”
Despite Moscow’s efforts to have Turkey block the meeting and to prevent Crimean Tatars from attending, some 200 Crimean Tatar organizations are represented now in Ankara. 410 delegates are registered, as are 80 invited guests and 110 who are attending on their own.