UN Security Council "Arria formula" meeting on "Human Rights Situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine’’

Bilge Koçyiğit Grba 06.03.2020
UN Security Council "Arria formula" meeting on ‘‘Human Rights Situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine’’

Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to the organizers of this meeting for keeping this issue on the agenda of the Security Council. I would also like to thank all the panelists for their insights and assessments.

Since the illegal annexation in 2014, the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula has severely deteriorated. Residents of the peninsula face systematic restrictions of human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, religion or belief and association and the right to peaceful assembly. In particular, the human rights of the Crimean Tatars have been systematically targeted.

76 years passed but Crimean Tatars still feel the impact of the tragic deportation of Crimean Tartars from their historical homeland, Crimea. Needless to say that this deportation has caused great losses for Crimean Tatars.

Unfortunately, 76 years after their persecution, members of the Crimean Tatar community continue to experience intimidation, this time by de facto authorities of Crimea, including arbitrary detentions, restrictions on cultural events, and particularly, the criminalization of their representative body, the Mejlis.

Six years after the illegal annexation, the activities of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People are still banned in the peninsula and it is unacceptable that prominent Tatar leaders including Jemilev (Mustafa Abdülcemil Kırımoğlu) and Chubarov (Rıfat Çubarov) still cannot enter Crimea. We are grateful for Mr. Chubarov's presence among us here today.

The de-facto authorities have also continued to marginalize and repress members of the Tatar community, prompting around 25,000 of them to leave the peninsula since the occupation began. Despite all this, as it has been in the past, Crimean Tatar people continue to seek their rights in a peaceful manner through democratic means after the illegal annexation.

Mr. President,

Turkey shares common historical, linguistic and cultural ties with Crimean Tatars and has 3 million citizens of Crimean Tatar descent. Therefore, this is not only a foreign policy issue for Turkey.

Turkey’s position regarding Crimea is clear and solid. We fully support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders and do not recognize the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea.

Non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea has been a matter of principle for us. We have co-sponsored the relevant Crimea-related resolutions at the UN General Assembly. We expect the full implementation of these resolutions.

We will continue to follow the human rights situation in Crimea very closely.

We will continue to defend on every platform the rights of Crimean Tatars in their just desire to live freely and safely in their ancestral homeland.