Dr. Hakan Kırımlı, from Bilkent University Department of International Relations, delivered a conference titled “Crimea from Past to Present: History, Culture and International Politics” on 14 May 2014 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Kırımlı, in the conference, talked about the history of Crimean Peninsula with its great strategic importance for controlling Black Sea, and the history of Crimean Tatars as the oldest people among current inhabitants of the peninsula dating back to at least 15 centuries. He stated that although they are called “Tatars” alluding to their rulers` descent from Genghis Khan, these people are ethnically and linguistically from Kipchak Turkic origin, and they were in a position of supremacy during the reigns of Altinorda Khanate ruling over modern West Russia and Eastern Europe, and its successor state of Crimean Khanate. He notified that after XVIIIth Century, the ascending power of Czarist Russia begun its expansion to the south by severing Crimean Khanate's ties from the Ottoman Empire, its erstwhile suzerain, and annexed Crimea in 1783, which triggered a series of ever-increasing flows of emigration by Muslim Tatars from Crimea into Ottoman territories during the following periods.
Kırımlı underlined the influence of “Usul-i Cedid” reforms in Crimea as well as in Turkey and among Turks in Russia, which was initiated by Crimean intellectual and luminary İsmail Bey Gaspıralı with the aim of rekindling Crimean national consciousness through pacific and humanitarian methods. He stated that this reawakening also paved the way to the convention of first fully democratic parliament in Islamic world and its proclamation of Crimea Democratic Republic (CDR) in 1917 right after the end of Czarist regime in Russia. He cited that this movement and CDR were suppressed later by Bolsheviks by force, and Crimean Tatars were deported as a whole in very harsh conditions from Crimea to Central Asia and Urals in 1944 by Stalin and all citations to the “Crimean Tatars” were deleted from written sources and materials in an attempt to condemn this nation into oblivion in the Soviet Union.
Kırımlı emphasized the peaceful and expressly non-violent way of action by Crimean Tatars in defiance of their exile, and indicated that they have begun returning to their homeland from the last years of 1980's led by Mustafa Abdülcemil Kırımoğlu, the most prominent name of this peaceful struggle, and managed to resettle up to 15 percent of the population in Crimean peninsula at present day.
Kırımlı cautioned that the latest developments in Ukraine as well as Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea by using armed force in violation of all international legal norms and treaties opened the door into a very uneasy period for Crimean Tatars, and emphasized the necessity of utmost attention against any possible infringement into Crimean Tatars` natural rights and interests by Russia.