World Bulletin / News Desk
As the political crisis in Ukraine looks likely to flare separatist agendas, which threaten to divide the country in half along pro-European and pro-Russian lines, no community is more concerned than the native Tatars of the Crimea peninsula.
Crimean Tatars are a native Turkic community in the Crimea peninsula, which is found on Ukraine's southern Black Sea coast. Having already lived the trauma's of the Russian-Ottoman wars for control over the region, which started in the mid-18th century and lasted till the late-19th century, Crimean Tatars are now worried what the future will bring for them if Ukraine is divided.
Speaking to World Bulletin, Crimean Tatar Parliament representative in Turkey, Zafer Karatay, said a divided Ukraine could prove to be dangerous for the Crimean Tatars, and that Russian forces could use it as an opportunity to steer the region towards their interests.
Karatay stated that Russian media is already promoting news regarding the Kucuk Kaynarca agreements which were made between the Ottoman Empire and Russia in 1774, which states that Crimea, which was Ottoman territory at the time, would not become independent from the empire, nor would it be annexed by another country.
In encouraging Crimea to split from Ukraine, Russia will seek to enforce its control over the peninsula, Karatay said.
Noting that many rights that had been given to the Republic of Tatarstan after the fall of the Soviet Union had been revoked during Russian president Vladimir Putin's reign, Karatay expressed his fear that should Crimea come under Russia's administration, many of the rights given to the Crimean Tatars may also be revoked.
"The same way Turkey is seeking to defend the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq, they should also do the same for Ukraine," he said.
The majority of people in Crimean are ethnic Russians who generally support the ousted pro-Russian president of Ukraine Yanukovich. In a similar tactic used during the Russian-Georgian war in 2008, Karatay claimed that the Russian government was preparing a plan to make it easier to grant citizenship to ethnic Russians in Crimea to strengthen its claim to the peninsula.
Karatay also warned of a smear campaign linking the Muslim Crimean Tatars to Al-Qaeda, adding that such reports are lies.
Located in the northern Black Sea, Crimea has many strategic advantages. The vast majority of Crimean Tatars were exiled from their homeland during the era of Soviet leader Josef Stalin, but after the fall of the Soviet Union, many of them opted to return home.Last Mod: 26 Şubat 2014, 09:23