The Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Mustafa Dzhemilev, stated in his interview with Radio Svoboda that Turkey joined the sanctions imposed against Russia for the annexation of Crimea only after the deterioration of their relationship with the Russian Federation. Prior to that, Turkey hadn’t joined the group of countries that impose sanctions against Russia.
According to Dzhemilev, officials in Ankara believed the Turkish leader would be more powerful and better able to protect the rights of Crimean Tatars if Turkey refused to join sanctions, given the country’s special relationship with the Russian Federation.
“We didn’t agree with this. We were saying, ‘You can’t protect our rights in the occupied territory. The only way to protect the rights of indigenous people is to release them from occupation’,” Dzhemilev said.
However, according to him, sanctions were almost initiated by the Russian Federation after the relations between Turkey and Russia deteriorated, but Turkey joined the sanctions against Russia first, which has affected the flow of supplies to the Crimea.
“Initial attempts at blockades of goods and power to Crimean Tatars were not effective because ships came from different countries, including Turkey, with food products. There is a huge list of other countries including Greece, Italy and Romania. The Turks said that it was smuggling and that they didn’t give permission and that they came under different flags. Currently, there is no such situation. Turkey is practically participating in the blockage of Crimea,” Dzhemilev stated.
He added that Turkey has strengthened its relations with Ukraine in the economic, political and military sectors. The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, visited Turkey on March 9-10th, where he met the representatives of the country’s highest authorities.
On Wednesday, Poroshenko and the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, signed a joint declaration on the expansion of the strategic cooperation of the two countries, in particular, in light of Russian aggression against Ukraine and the illegal occupation of Crimea.