The Second Crimean Tatar World Congress has opened on 1 July 2015 in the Turkish capital of Ankara. Over 410 representatives had registered for the event, in particular – various political figures, civic society activists, researchers coming from some 200 Crimean Tatar NGOs. The proclaimed goal of the meeting is to work out a working strategy for the Crimean Tatar diaspora to resist the Russian occupation of Crimea.
“Crimean Tatars are not a minority living on the Crimean peninsula, but the historic owners of Crimea. They have been living there for thousands of years and have had a successful state there. Crimean Tatars have the ultimate say about Crimea’s future and destiny, and no decision about it can be made without the free decision of Crimean Tatar people. No occupying force can impose conditions upon us,” said in his opening speech Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis Refat Chubarov. “Our goal is to establish democracy and liberty on our homeland.”
The Crimean Tatars’ vocal stance to return Crimea to Ukraine has seen strong support from Türkiye. Having strong historical connections to Crimean Tatars, with the Crimean Tatar Khanate once being a vassal to the Ottoman Empire, and the largest Crimean Tatar diaspora community in the world, Türkiye had unequivocally condemned the Russian occupation of Crimea.
“Turkish people understood what oppression means very well; we are going to help you reach your objectives and targets,” stated Deputy chairman of the Turkish Republicans People’s Party Murat Özçelik, speaking at the Congress. Crimean Tatars are present in almost all political parties in Türkiye. “I am a daughter of Crimea and frequently express this,” Ruhsar Demirel, the first Crimean Turkish woman to be elected as a deputy to Parliament and Vice President of the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party, told the Congress.
The Deputy Premier Minister of Türkiye Numan Kurtulmuş stated that safety is a priority for Türkiye, and that it’s necessary to revise Russia’s role as a permanent member at the UN security council. “How can you make any safety decision when the Russian Federation will block it? We need a new solution, and need to establish a peaceful system to solve the world’s problems.”
In his message read aloud to the gathering, the Foreign Minister of Türkiye Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated that Türkiye “will never accept the illegal occupation of Crimea, and will continue voicing discomfort with the situation.” The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his message noted that “the right of the Crimean Tatars to a peaceful and dignified life has been interrupted many times, the last of which is the illegal annexation of Crimea. The situation with Crimean Tatars will be the priority for Türkiye in the Ukrainian crisis.”
Ukraine, in its turn, thanked the Turkish people and Crimean Tatars for their strong support for Ukrainian territorial integrity. “Ukraine will never in any circumstances accept the violation of the rights of the Crimean Tatar people to live freely on their own land,” an address of the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko read aloud at the Congress stated. According to him, there are many representatives of the Crimean Tatars working in the Ukrainian government, and the Ukrainian parliament is working on a law regarding the indigenous peoples of Ukraine.
The Congress took place despite Moscow’s efforts to block and delegitimize the meeting. However, a number of Crimean Tatar leaders could not attend, following threats and intimidation from the authorities of occupied Crimea.