President Dalia Grybauskaitė

Crimean Tatars have Lithuania's full support


Monday, March 5, Vilnius  President Dalia Grybauskaitė met with Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov, Crimean Tatar leaders and deputy speakers of the Crimean Tartar parliament, the Mejlis. Taking part in the meeting - timed to the fourth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea – also was the chair of the Lithuanian Tatar community, Adas Jakubauskas.

Following Crimea’s annexation, Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov were persecuted and imprisoned for their political activities. They were both freed this past October after an intervention by Turkey's president. 

Special emphasis was placed at the meeting on reassurance of support for Crimean Tatars who have suffered from the seizure of Crimea.

The President underlined that Lithuania strongly condemned the annexation of Crimea and was deeply committed to the principled position of non-recognition of its illegal annexation. Lithuania stands for the continuation of EU sanctions introduced against Russia after Crimea's occupation until the aggressor withdraws from the territory of Ukraine.

According to the President, Russia is responsible for the rapidly deteriorating situation of Crimean Tatars, for brutal violation of their rights, continued persecution, ongoing Russification by force, and restrictions on the freedom of speech, press and religion. Lithuania is making an all-out effort to keep Russia's hostile policies directed against the Crimean Tatars in sharp international focus.

Russia has banned Crimean Tatars' highest ruling body, the Mejlis. Tatars are forced to adopt Russian citizenship, courts do not serve justice, people are detained without legal grounds or they disappear. Tatars are prohibited from conducting meetings, celebrating important traditional events. Tatar television broadcasting and press publications have been discontinued.

The President invited Crimean Tatars to actively submit applications for development cooperation projects. In 2017, Lithuania provided financial assistance for the integration of forcibly displaced persons, support to women and Tatar television programmes. 

In Lithuania, Tatars constitute an ethnic and religious group, with historical roots going back to the 13-14th centuries. Lithuanian Grand Dukes Gediminas, Algirdas, Kęstutis, and Vytautas formed military unions with Tatars, who would also serve in the armies of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. About 4000 Tatars currently live in Lithuania, mostly in the districts of Vilnius, Kaunas and Alytus.

Press Service of the President

Last updated 2018.03.05 14:24