During the meeting, the sides exchanged their views on the situation in Ukraine and Crimea. Mustafa Jemilev noted that representatives of the Crimean Tatar community were grateful for a high level reception they were given in Lithuania, and also for an opportunity to have a meeting of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars in the Lithuanian Seimas building.
“Lithuanian officials provided practical assistance to our people, and it was Lithuania that initiated holding of events at the UN Security Council that were very important for us. As a member of the EU, Lithuania openly expressed its principled position on the occupation of Crimea. The EU is comprised of a lot of countries, and in some of them people do not understand what problems and difficulties we are facing. But the fact that Lithuania supports us gives us strength. Greatness of a nation is not determined by its strength, but its heart. Andd Lithuania has proved that maxim,” said Dzhemilev.
He also said there would be a lot more discussion about Crimea, but a clear position in this situation is of utmost importance.
In his turn, Ilmi Umerov, Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, said that the Crimean Tatars have a special feeling for Lithuania.
“Twenty-five years ago, our nations were experiencing similar situations. We were returning to our homeland, while you were fighting for your independence. Back then, we arrived in Lithuania to give you a kind of help. There were still checkpoints when we arrived, so we were received at the Seim and given an opportunity to speak. I remember giving a 40-minute talk. When I was Head of the Bakhchisarai District, we organized the Days of Lithuanian Culture,” Umerov said.
Adas Jakubauskas, a member of the Coordination Council of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars, also thanked the Lithuanian side for the warm welcome.
“We would like to ask Lithuania to become a kind of an advocate for the Crimean Tatar people. It would be very symbolic, because when Lithuania needed help, the Crimean Tatars gave it to her. And now the Crimean Tatars are facing a difficult situation and need help, too.
A week ago I was in the archive, where letters of Lithuanian princes to Crimean khans were on display. That is indicative of how brotherly our nations are. Now this is important because Lithuania is a NATO member, Lithuanians were at the Maidan, and Ukrainians are well aware of Lithuania,” said Adas Jakubauskas.
Refat Chubarov, Head of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people and Ukrainian MP, said he sensed pragmatism returning to Europe. He voiced apprehension that Europe might revert to the old practice of big countries deciding the fate of small ones.
“If the interests of the Crimean Tatars are neglected today, the interests of other nations will be neglected tomorrow. We would not want our fate to be decided by Europe and Russia. And we appreciate your principled position and support,” Chubarov said.
Loretta Grauzhinene, Chairman of the Lithuanian Seimas, thanked everybody for the informative discussion saying that Lithuania would always support the Crimean Tatars. In conclusion, she once again said that she was hoping to visit Bakhchisaray where a next meeting of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars would be held.
The World Congress of the Crimean Tatar people (WCCT) is an organization bringing together Crimean Tatars living in their historic homeland of Crimea, as well as Turkey, Romania, Poland, USA, Canada, Lithuania, Western Europe and Central Asia.
A first meeting of the World Congress of the Crimean Tatars, held in Simferopol /Aqmescit on May 9, 2009, was attended by 420 delegates from 13 countries. At that meeting, Refat Chubarov was elected the organization’s Chairman.
A second meeting of the World Congress of the Crimean Tatars, held in Ankara on August 1-2, 2015, was attended by 180 members of Crimean Tatar NGOs from 12 countries, as well as authorized representatives of government circles, NGOs and media. The meeting’s participants decided to establish an international non-governmental organization called ‘the World Congress of the Crimean Tatars" in order to promote Crimean Tatar self-governing bodies internationally. Refat Chubarov was re-elected Chairman of the World Congress of the Crimean Tatars at that meeting. Members of the Congress’ Executive Committee, comprised of 21 representatives, as well as members of the Audit Commission, were also elected during the meeting.
Three meetings of the Executive Committee were held in Romania and Ukraine - in Kiev and in the village of Chongar, Kherson region. The fourth meeting is now underway in Vilnius, Lithuania, and will go on from April 11, 2016 to April 13, 2016.