(QHA) -

The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced Sunday its ‘strong’ support for the Crimean Tatars, marking the 70th anniversary of their forced exile under Soviet leader Josef Stalin in 1944 from Crimea to Central Asia, Anadolu Agency reports.

The ministry said in a statement that it supports the Crimean Tatars’ democratic struggle for existence in Crimea, adding that their rights and interests should be protected.

Seventy years ago, around 250,000 Crimean Tatars - including women and children - were taken from their homes and forced to migrate in hunger and thirst to another region, thousands of kilometers away from Crimea, the statement said.

Commemoration ceremonies were held on Sunday in capital Ankara, Istanbul and the northwestern province of Eskisehir where associations of Crimean Tatars living in Turkey held moments of silence and recited the Turkish and Crimean national anthems. A group of Crimean Tatars laid a black wreath in front of the Russian Consulate General in Istanbul.