Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, in Response to the High Commissioner on National Minorities, 1026th Meeting of the Permanent Council

Tacan İldem 20.11.2014
Thank you Mr. Chairperson.

I join the previous speakers in warmly welcoming the High Commissioner on National Minorities, Ms. Astrid Thors, back to the Permanent Council. We thank her for her comprehensive and informative presentation.

Since shortly after assuming her office, High Commissioner Thors has taken up a significant role within the framework of our Organization’s efforts to address the challenges resulting from the crisis in and around Ukraine. We commend her valuable efforts in this regard, including the visit she conducted to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea last March, as well as her close cooperation with the Special Monitoring Mission.

Turkey has repeatedly voiced its concerns regarding the continuing infringements on the human rights of minority groups in Crimea. We believe that the safety and welfare of all ethnic groups in Crimea should remain high among our priorities. We have also underlined our special sensitivity and concern for the security and well-being of the Crimean Tatar minority. During Minister Çavuşoğlu’s recent visit to Kiev on November 10th, he was able to meet with Crimean Tatar leaders and take note of their concerns.

Unfortunately, members of the Crimean Tatar minority in particular continue to be subject to harassment, intimidation, enforced disappearances, arrests and murder. As the High Commissioner also underlined in her presentation, a deliberate policy of mounting pressure is being directed toward the Crimean Tatar National Assembly, the Mejlis, which is the sole legitimate representative body of the Crimean Tatar people. Mr. Mustafa Kırımoğlu (Cemilev), leader of the Crimean Tatar people, and Mr. Refat Chubarov, President of the Mejlis, are still denied entry into their homeland of Crimea in a flagrant violation of international law. Furthermore, like the vast majority of the peninsula’s population, the Crimean Tatars were deprived of their fundamental right to take part in both last April’s Presidential elections and October’s early parliamentary elections in Ukraine. Such unacceptable methods of pressure to intimidate the Crimean Tatars, who are an indigenous people of the peninsula defending their democratic rights through peaceful means, must cease. We are confident that the international community will not remain silent in the face of these repressive measures.

Against this backdrop, we believe that the High Commissioner’s request to visit Crimea, which she alluded to in her report, assumes even greater urgency. Recalling the recent visit to Crimea on September 10th and 11th by Mr. Muiznieks, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, we call on those responsible to also allow the High Commissioner’s proposed visit as soon as possible. Let me also take this opportunity to underline that Mr. Muiznieks’ report published on October 27th draws attention to numerous human rights violations perpetrated against the Crimean Tatars and underlines the need to avoid further action selectively targeting members of the Crimean Tatar community under the guise of fighting extremism.

Mr. Chairperson,

It remains our sincere hope that the valuable recommendations made by the High Commissioner concerning the situation of minorities in Crimea will be acted upon without delay, and that we will soon begin witnessing a decrease in the ongoing human rights violations. I wish to reemphasize in this context that Turkey does not recognise the illegitimate and illegal de facto situation in Crimea and continues to regard the peninsula as part of Ukraine. We will certainly continue to closely follow developments in Crimea with a particular emphasis on the security and well-being of the Crimean Tatars. We also expect the OSCE and its institutions to remain seized of this matter with all the assets at their disposal.

In concluding, we thank High Commissioner Thors and her able team once again for their sustained efforts regarding the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, including Crimea. We wish them every success in their future endeavors.

Thank you.