Turkey's Davutoglu warns of ‘domino effect' of Crimea crisis

Photo: Turkey's Davutoglu warns of ‘domino effect' of Crimea crisis / Turkey

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned on Sunday that the crisis in Ukraine could have repercussions on latent conflicts across the Eurasia region as people in the autonomous republic of Crimea went to the ballot boxes to decide whether or not to secede from Ukraine, Today's Zaman reported.

"Pandora's box should not be opened. If you create a de facto situation in Ukraine, this will have a domino effect on all the countries in the Eurasia region," Davutoglu said in televised remarks made in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, apparently referring to the prospect of Crimea's secession from Ukraine.

The referendum, which comes two weeks after Russian-led forces seized control of Crimea, is widely expected to approve secession. Turkey has called for dialogue and restraint, urging Ukraine to maintain balanced relations and not to focus solely on cultivating ties with the West at the expense of its relations with Russia and also highlighted the importance of the wellbeing of Crimea's Tatar minority, who have ethnic and cultural links with the Turks.

"The security of Tatars is the main strategic priority for Turkey," Davutoglu said on Sunday. He said a series of talks that Tatar leaders have held with Russian and EU officials recently are a sign that the Tatars are recognized as an indigenous element of Crimean society. A Tatar political leader, Mustafa Abdülcemil Kırımoglu, visited Brussels for talks with EU and NATO officials and Kırımoglu has also spoken on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Davutoglu said he and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan were to have talks with Kırımoglu in Turkey.

Turkey, which has close trade ties with Russia and depends on Moscow for natural gas imports, has avoided directly criticizing Moscow throughout the crisis. On Sunday, Davutoglu said Turkey did not want to see Russia isolated internationally, but that Moscow should also respect the territorial integrity of its neighbors.

On Saturday Russia vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council declaring the results of the Crimean referendum invalid. The resolution was supported by 13 members of the 15-member body and even Russia's ally, China, abstained instead of supporting Moscow.

Davutoglu said that after Syria, now it is Ukraine a presenting a test for the international community and that steps were not taken in time to defuse the crisis. He said that in talks with Russia Turkey had proposed a solution based on the principles that Ukraine's territorial integrity must be maintained and that a new government representing all political sides, both pro-European and pro-Russian, should be established in Kiev.

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