Türkiye's parliament speaker Mustafa Sentop
Türkiye will never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the country’s parliament speaker said Tuesday.
''Türkiye did not and will not recognize the annexation of Crimea. It will continue to support Ukraine and the Crimean Tatars on both bilateral and multilateral platforms,'' said Mustafa Sentop in the Croatian capital Zagreb, referring to a Turkic group that has suffered oppression since Russia’s illegal 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. Many observers call the annexation a prelude to Russia’s current war on Ukraine.
In a speech at the First Parliamentary Summit of the Crimea Platform, Sentop stressed that Crimea is the homeland of the Crimean Tatar Turks. He said Türkiye will continue to support Ukraine and the Crimean Tatars on both bilateral and multilateral platforms.
"Apart from its strategic, historical, and economic dimensions, the issue is also important for us in this respect. Because, like all other people, the Crimean Tatars deserve to live freely and safely in their own homeland,” he said.
The Crimea Platform is a consultative and coordination format initiated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the speedy de-occupation of Crimea and to increase pressure on Russia.
"I believe that making the parliamentary leg of the Crimea Platform operational with this summit will strengthen the message we want to convey on the Crimea issue and reinforce our efforts, I thank Croatia for hosting it," said Sentop.
Sentop added that like Crimea, Türkiye also does not recognize Russia’s annexation last month of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson, a move that met widespread international condemnation.
After taking it over in 2014, Moscow turned the Crimean Peninsula, which is home to around 350,000 Tatars, into a large Russian military base by deploying weapon systems as well as 150,000 soldiers.
Turkiye, the EU, and the US, as well as the UN General Assembly, view the annexation as illegal.
Since that time, Crimea's ethnic Tartars have faced a "systematic oppression and intimidation campaign," in the words of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, including the banning of their representative body the Mejlis, raids on homes and mass detentions, and suppression of the right to assembly and protest as well as freedom of expression.
- Ukraine needs military support: Zelenkskyy
Also speaking at the meeting, Zelenskyy said: ''We need three things: military support, sanctions against Russia, and territorial integrity. Help us for these. Crimea needs to return to normal life,'' said Zelenskyy.
He added that everything started with Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea.
"The Russians oppose religious freedom and carry out religious and ethnic cleansing. If you are a minority, you are guilty. People have been trying to live like this for nine years. The Ukrainian flag flying in Crimea is equivalent to returning to normal,'' said Zelenskyy.
- This is a campaign of fear: Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, said that Russia is violating human rights in Ukraine’s territory of Crimea.
''This is an attack on democracy. There has been an attack on Ukraine for eight months without any reason. This is a campaign of fear. Soldiers killing people on the roads," Pelosi told the forum.
The Balkan nation of Croatia is hosting the first Crimea Platform Parliamentary Summit as Ukraine is in a state of war.
Over 45 countries are taking part in the summit in addition to Türkiye, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Montenegro, Poland, Slovenia, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as NATO and European Union officials.