Turkey does not recognize Russia's Crimea annexation
Turkish Foreign Minister says Russia failed to keep its promises to Crimean Tatars.
"Our good relations with Russia does not mean that we recognize the annexation of the Crimea," Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.
Cavusoglu made the remarks in an exclusive interview with The Anadolu Agency's Editors' Desk at its headquarters in Ankara.
A referendum on the status of Crimea was held on March 16, 2014. A majority of the Crimean population voted to become part of the Russian Federation. The U.S. and EU denounced the referendum as illegitimate, as the region was occupied by Russian soldiers at the time.
Although Turkey is among the countries opposed to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, and one that defends the territorial integrity of Ukraine, Turkey did not implement the Western-led economic sanctions imposed on Russia.
The foreign minister also said that Turkey is making an effort at establishing dialogue between Kiev and Moscow. Russia is Turkey's largest trading partner after Germany, Cavusoglu pointed out.
- Promises to the Crimean Tatars
Russia had previously said that it is ready to grant the ethnic and cultural rights of the Crimean Tatar people. Cavusoglu remarked: "We are sorry to say that Russia unfortunately has not fulfilled these promises."
According to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, there are 280,000 Crimean Tatars in the Crimea, about 13 percent of the total population.
On Dec. 1, Russian president Vladimir Putin made an official state visit to Turkey, during which he announced the cancellation of the European Union's "South Stream" natural gas pipeline project. The pipeline would have carried Russian gas across the Black Sea and into Europe via several Balkan nations, starting with Bulgaria. Instead, a new gas pipeline project has been proposed, which will carry gas through Turkey.
"But our priority right now is to make the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline project happen," Cavusoglu said.
The TANAP project is planned to originate at the Georgia-Turkey border, to pass through Anatolia, and to extend 1242.7 miles (2,000 kilometers) to reach Greece. It will then connect with the Southern Gas Corridor that will carry natural gas from the Caspian Sea near Azerbaijan to Italy into Europe.
- Cyprus issue
Cavusoglu reiterated that Turkey and the government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have strongly opposed any "unilateral" move by the Greek-Cypriot administration to explore any hydrocarbon resources around the island, saying its natural resources should be exploited in a fair manner.
"Because Turkish Cypriots also have the right to the oil and gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean," said Cavusoglu.
The Turkish Cypriot government maintains its firm stand that the resources of the island of Cyprus belong to both communities and that the Turkish Cypriots will not give up their rights to those resources.
Negotiations between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot administration had resumed after a two-year pause in February 2013. However, the Greek Cypriot administration suspended the talks over the divided island on Oct. 7, after Turkey sent a ship to monitor an oil-and-gas exploration mission off the coast of Cyprus.
Turkey and Greece are the guarantor countries for the disputed Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Both Turkish and Greek Cypriots are trying to find a way to settle their decades-long conflict.
Cavusoglu pointed out that both Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration are undergoing political change, "This is the biggest obstacle to constructive steps for the politicians in both countries."
Cavusoglu will visit the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on Wednesday to exchange views on the current phase of the Cyprus issue.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.