28 February 2014
Around 280,000 Crimean Tatars live in Autonomous Republic of Crimea, whose government was dissolved Thursday.
Turkey stresses the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and is closely following developments in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, with which it has strong cultural and historical ties, Turkey’s Foreign Minister said Thursday.
"Turkey attaches importance to democracy and democracy-based political stability in Ukraine's future," Ahmet Davutoglu said during a press conference Thursday. "Crimea is important for Turkey as it is Turkey's door to Ukraine and it is also important for our Tatar compatriots."
Turkey believes that Crimean Tatars and other Ukrainian citizens must live together as loyal citizens while also preserving their cultural identity, he added.
In 2012, Davutoglu had led the way for quartet meetings to find a solution for Crimean Tatars’ concerns alongside the then Ukrainian foreign minister, and the Crimean republic’s prime minister and Crimean Tatar National Assembly president of the time.
The 280,000 Crimean Tatars living in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea constitute close to 13 percent of the total population, according to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry.
The political situation in Crimea has remained uncertain since Ukraine was hit by large-scale protests, resulting in the ousting of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and dozens of deaths.
Crimea’s Parliament dissolved its government Thursday and announced it will hold a referendum on May 25 to decide its future.
Several dozen armed men had seized the parliament building in the republic’s capital Simferopol earlier in the day.