Ukraine expects 'good results' during Erdogan's visit
The first official contact between presidents of Turkey and Ukraine will take place on March 20
By Diyar Guldogan
Ukraine hopes to achieve good results during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit toUkraine on March 20, Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey told The Anadolu Agency.
"It is going to be the first official contact between our presidents and we believe that it will bring good results," Sergiy Korsunsky said Monday.
Erdogan will meet his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk during his visit. He will also attend the fourth High Level Strategic Council meeting.
Korsunsky said that during Erdogan’s visit, both sides were expected to discuss regional issues apart from bilateral ties. About bilateral trade, he said, "We have approximately $6 billion trade volume, but last year it diminished because of war in Ukraine and the situation around Turkey."
Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the ongoing conflict between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine has badly hit the Ukrainian economy. About the International Monetary Fund's approval of a $17.5 billion aid package for Ukraine, he said it was a message from the international community to Russia that the world was not going to accept Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Korsunsky also said Ukraine has plans to organize donor conferences in April where Turkey’s participation was also expected.
The situation of Crimean Tatars
The Ukrainian ambassador said that Crimean Tatars were going through a terrible time. "I have to stress the biggest suffering part of population is Crimean Tatars, who are now prosecuted not just because of being Crimean, not just because they are loyal to Ukraine, but because they are Crimean Tatars," Korsunsky said.
"This is a kind of genocide. They cannot speak their language. They cannot perform their religious duty as Muslims," he added.
The Crimean city of Simferopol witnessed clashes on Feb. 26, 2014, when Crimean Tatars and other pro-Ukrainian activists clashed with pro-Russian demonstrators. A referendum on the status of Crimea was held on March 16, 2014 and a majority of the Crimean population voted to become part of the Russian Federation. The U.S. and EU denounced the referendum as illegitimate, as the region was occupied by Russian soldiers at the time.
"From our point of view, Crimea is a territory of peace, it is a touristic destination and it should not become a military base," he said.
According to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, there are 280,000 Crimean Tatars in Crimea, making up about 13 percent of the total population. Turkey will send an unofficial delegation to Crimea to observe the situation of Crimean Tatars.
Korsunsky said that Russia had failed to keep its promises to Crimean Tatars for granting ethnic and cultural rights. "It is very clear to us, Russians do not want to have people living in Crimea, who are loyal to history, who are loyal to their motherland. They want to move any Turkishness out of Crimea as well," he added.
A cease-fire was signed between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in Minsk, Belarus, on Feb. 12. The ambassador said that despite Ukraine's efforts, the Minsk agreement was not being fully implemented.
"What we see is Russia's continuous violation of international agreements," Korsunsky said.
He also alleged that between 7,000 and 12,000 regular Russian troops were in eastern Ukraine. More than 6,000 victims have lost their lives in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists since last April, according to the UN.