International community should attract "greater interest" to human rights violations in Crimea - Turkish deputy FM

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Canan Kevser
24 February 2021, 10:45
Canan Kevser
24 February 2021, 10:45

The international community should attract "greater interest" to human rights violations in Crimea, says Turkey's Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kiran.

Addressing a special event on Crimea at the UN Human Rights Council's 46th session, Turkey's Deputy Foreign Minister stressed that the panel is very important to highlight human right violations in Crimea.

Indicating Turkey's disagreement with the status quo, the diplomat criticised that the UN had failed many times to maintain international peace and order, as in the case of the illegal annexation of Crimea.

"It is also essential to show our disagreement with the status quo. The primary mandate of the UN is to maintain international peace and stability. Regretfully, the UN has not been able to fulfil these many global issues. The illegal annexation of Crimea is a case in point," Kiran said.

Reiterating that Turkey does not and will not recognise this illegal annexation, he said the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political unity of Ukraine must be respected.

"This is a matter of principle for us. Therefore we co-sponsor Crimea-related initiatives in international organisations, including the UN."

The diplomat affirmed Turkey's strong support for Crimean Tatars' aspirations to live freely and safely in their historical homeland.

"Turkey is home to more than 3 million citizens of Tatar origin. Protecting their rights is particularly important for us."

He noted that Tatars suffered a lot throughout history and their forceful deportation from their homeland is one of the biggest tragedies in the 20th century.

After years of struggle and suffering, Kiran said, most of them managed to return to their homeland; however, illegal annexation in 2014 brought additional suffering.

According to Kiran, currently, human rights issues on the ground are getting worse in Crimea.

"Tatar leaders cannot enter their homeland. Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people is banned. The number of unfair trials and unlawful detentions is rising. Recent convictions against Crimean Tatars by Russian courts is a cause of great concern."

Mentioning the difficulties faced by Crimean Tatars, particularly in education and religion, the Deputy Foreign Minister said that the international community should do more to support and protect their rights.

"The recent prisoner exchange in Donbas is a clear sign that coordinated international efforts can get results."

Referring to the Tatar people of Crimea with whom Turkey has "unique, historical relations and ties," Kiran said that Turkey cooperates with Ukraine to improve the living conditions of the Tatar people.

In this respect, he added, Turkey agreed with Ukraine to build houses for the Tatar community, and it is also working on projects to address their need in education and religion.

"The international community should display greater solidarity with the Tatar people in these difficult times. Supporting the Tatar people and rejecting illegal annexation is both legal and moral responsibility. All the communities in Crimea deserve peace, prosperity and freedom."

According to him, the demands of the Crimean Tatar community must be kept high on the international agenda, therefore, Turkey supported the Crimean Platform.

Kiran pointed out his confidence in the Crimean platform to help increase international support.

Building the close friendship between Ukraine, which is a neighbour, friend and strategic partner for Turkey, Mr Yavuz Selim Kiran insisted that Turkey would continue to support Ukraine and all Crimean people, including Crimean Tatars.

On Tuesday, February 23, a ministerial panel discussion held on the human rights situation in the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula, on the sidelines of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Participants of the event were as follows: Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs, Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey Yavuz Selım Kıran, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif, as well as deputy head of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Nariman Dzhelyal, a journalist Lutfiye Zudieva and a representative of an NGO which focuses on protecting human rights in the peninsula Maria Tomak.