Foreign Ministry: Turkey does not recognize Russian annexation of Crimea
by Anadolu Agency
ANKARAApr 16, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Anadolu Agency
Apr 16, 2015 12:00 am
Turkey has reiterated its position that it doesn't recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea.
In remarks made at a weekly press briefing Thursday, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgiç said that Turkey's position on Crimea was clear.
"Both our Ukrainian and Russian interlocutors know Turkey's position very well. Since the start of the crisis, Turkey has supported the territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea," Bilgiç said.
According to the Foreign Ministry, there are 280,000 Crimean Tatars in Crimea, making up about 13 percent of the total population.
Turkey intends to send a delegation to Crimea to observe the situation of Crimean Tatars.
"Sending an unofficial delegation to Crimea does not indicate any change in position or that we recognize Crimea's annexation," the spokesman said.
Bilgiç said the delay in sending the delegation was because of a recent Russian statement about what route such a delegation should take to reach Crimea.
"Moscow welcomes the readiness of an unofficial Turkish delegation to visit Crimea, but recommends that they should not come to the peninsula via Ukrainian soil," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying by the state-run Sputnik news agency on April 4.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu previously said that Turkey would share the delegation's reports with international and non-governmental organizations after their visit.
The Crimean city of Simferopol witnessed clashes on February 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.