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Turkey not to "leave Crimean Tatars in the lurch"

07 March 2014 16:14 (Last updated 07 March 2014 16:18)

Turkish PM Erdogan says that Turkey will back Crimean Tatars to protect their rights amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine


Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey would support Crimean Tatars in maintaining their political rights amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

"We will not leave Crimean Tatars in the lurch,” Erdogan said during a rally in the central Anatolian city of Eskisehir before the local elections on March 30.

“I have talked to Russian President (Vladimir) Putin on the events in Crimea and told him that Russia should protect the rights of Crimean Tatars as they do with the Russian majority and other minorities in Crimea," he said.

The Crimean Parliament decided on Thursday to hold referendum to join Russia amid a diplomatic push to solve the political crisis in the peninsula.

Russian and pro-Russian forces retain control of top institutions and military bases in Crimea, which Western countries say is a breach of Ukraine’s sovereignty and international law.

Nearly 60 percent of Crimea's population are ethnic Russians or Russian-speakers, who are represented by an overwhelming majority in the parliament.