Kremlin Regrets Erdogan's Claims About Crimea's 'Annexation' on Eve of Sochi Summit
10:34 GMT 22.09.2021 (Updated: 11:25 GMT 22.09.2021)
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned the importance of "preserving Ukraine's territorial integrity", including "annexed" Crimea. The peninsula's residents held a referendum in March 2014 in the aftermath of a coup in Kiev to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia.
Moscow "regrets" the Turkish president's comments about Crimea's so-called "annexation," particularly on the eve of his planned 29 September summit with the Russian president in Sochi, Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov has said.
"Of course we consider ourselves the addressees of these remarks; this is how we perceive them. We naturally regret that such statements are being made now, during preparations for the Turkish president's visit to the Russian Federation," Peskov said, speaking to reporters on Wednesday.
In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday night, Erdogan indicated that Ankara does not recognise Crimea's return to Russia, and demanded that efforts be made to "protect" the peninsula's Tatar minority.
"We consider it important to preserve the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, including the territory of Crimea, the annexation of which we do not recognise. We need to make more efforts to protect the rights of Crimean Tatars," Erdogan said.
Crimean authorities slammed the Turkish leader over his comments, with Yekaterina Altabayeva, a Russian senator hailing from Sevastopol, suggesting that Turkey's interest toward the peninsula is "probably" related to "nostalgia for medieval times," when the Ottoman Empire ruled the territory.
"But the decision of the inhabitants of Crimea, including the Crimean Tatars [to rejoin Russia] is definite and final. The politicians of today are free to express their points of view, this is their right. But we will strictly follow our Constitution. Any attempt to encroach on the territorial integrity of Russia would be bad news," she stressed.
29 August 2021, 10:34 GMT
Eyvaz Umerov, the chief of Crimean Tatars' regional national and cultural autonomy organisation, suggested that the Turkish leadership's refusal to recognise Crimea's status as part of Russia was a serious geopolitical mistake, and called on the Turkish side to avoid 'stepping on the same rake' again and again.
Umerov suggested that Turkey's recognition of Crimea's Russian status would give impetus to a new round of development of mutually beneficial economic cooperation between Ankara and Moscow. "But so far, unfortunately, the Turkish authorities do not want to hear from the Crimeans, including Crimean Tatars, whose interests they are supposedly so zealously trying to protect."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Erdogan for his remarks, his press service said Wednesday.
"The Ukrainian head of state thanked the Turkish leader for his firm position on the non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation...Zelensky noted the strategic nature of Ukrainian-Turkish relations and the importance of increasing the pace of bilateral cooperation in the political, trade, economic, military-technical and humanitarian spheres. Issues of interaction in the energy sector in the context of the diversification of energy supplies were discussed," the press service said in a statement.
Crimea broke off from Ukraine and rejoined Russia in March of 2014 after a peninsula-wide referendum, which was organised by the region's authorities in the aftermath of the US and EU-backed Maidan coup d'etat in Kiev. The referendum took place almost exactly sixty years after Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea from the Russian Soviet republic to the Ukrainian Soviet republic within the USSR as a result of personal political intrigues. The overwhelming majority of Crimea's residents voted to rejoin Russia in the 2014 referendum. However, Turkey, its NATO allies and many other countries continue to consider the territory part of Ukraine.