News: RIFAT BAŞARAN - Radikal
23 April, The International Children’s Festival has caused a diplomatic crisis for the first time in its history. The fact that they placed among the participating countries the Republic of Abkhazia, which Turkey does not recognise, resulted in an objection from Georgia. For that reason, TRT changed the name of the ‘Republic of Abkhazia’ into ‘Abkhazia Autonomous Republic-Georgia’. This was then opposed by Abkhazia. TRT resolved the situation by removing Abkhazia completely from the participating country-list. But the victims of this diplomatic crisis have been the children of Abkhazia who were preparing for the celebrations in Turkey.
TRT this year invited the Republic of Abkhazia to the 23rd-April International Children’s Festival. The invitation was through the Abkhazian Associations’ Federation in Turkey. The Federation reminded TRT that ‘Turkey does not have diplomatic relations with Georgia’. It stated that Georgia might react to this situation and asked for ‘assurance that there will not be any diplomatic problem’. After TRT gave its assurance about this, the invitation was sent to Abkhazia along with information to the effect that ‘TRT had given assurance that there will not be any diplomatic problem’. Abkhazia positively responded to the invitation and chose the children to represent their country in the festival, and preparations duly started.
The name and the flag of the ‘Republic of Abkhazia’ was listed among the participating countries on the official page of TRT. But Georgia reacted to this. The name of the Republic of Abkhazia in the announcement was changed to ‘Abkhazia Autonomous Republic-Georgia’. Abkhazia reacted by ironically asking: ‘So rhere wouldn’t be a diplomatic crisis?!’. Engin Ozkoc, the deputy of Sakarya an ethnic Abkhazian, asked Bulent Arinc, the Deputy Prime Minister who is responsible of TRT, to find a diplomatic middle road. TRT found a ‘solution’ by excluding the Republic of Abkhazia from the list.
Turkey's Abkhaz and Circassian diaspora members protests TRT
Ozkoc together with Bulent Kusoglu visited the speaker of the Parliament, Cemil Cicek. Cicek said he would look into the issue. In a call to Kusoglu one day ago, he said that the MFA had responded that "TRT had undertaken these actions without permission. We didn't know about this organisation", and that there was nothing to be done.
Ozkoc is preparing to take the issue to Parliament. Ozkoc will have a 10-minute slot to raise the topic in a statement in the Turkish Parliament’s General Assembly. Children going to visit the Turkish Parliament will hold a celebration in the city together with the Abkhazian children in Turkey. Ozkoc stated: "Whatever the MFA decides, the Abkhazian children decided to celebrate Children's Day with their brethren in Turkey."
The MFA of the Republic of Abkhazia, in a statement about the developments, expressed their commiserations. The Caucasus-Abkhazia Solidarity Committee sent a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmet Davutoglu, stating: “If a simple letter that comes from Georgia can result in the marginalisation of the Abkhazian citizens of the Turkish Republic, if politics can intervene in a cultural activity, there is definitely some game afoot, and once more our goodwill has been abused. The abuse of our children in this game is disrespectful to the strongest and immutable principles of our people.”
This article was published by Radikal and is translated from Turkish.
Engin Ozkoc, the deputy of Sakarya, an ethnic Abkhazian, speaks to the Turkish parliament on exclusion of Abkhazia from the list of countries invited to Turkey for an international children's festival. (Abkhazia in Vision)