Lasīšanas ilgums: 2 minūtes

To: Refat Chubarov, Chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis

My dear friend Refat,

We got to know each other in Riga 33 years ago during the establishment of the Popular Front and Singing Revolution. You stood by our side during the struggle for the restoration of Latvia’s independence. At the time, you were working in Riga because Crimean Tatars were barred from returning to their homeland following Stalin’s deportations and repressions. I remember feeling elated when Ukraine also restored its independence, allowing you and your family to finally come home.

I also had the pride and joy of meeting you in Kyiv in 2003, when you were a deputy of the Ukrainian Rada. We spoke of the future of Ukraine and the challenges that still needed to be overcome. Yet, above all else, we were optimistic.

Our next meeting was on the television screen, when Refat Chubarov, Chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, called on the Crimean Tatar people to boycott the referendum on 16 March and called on the United Nations to deploy peacekeeping forces in Crimea. The worst nightmare had become reality – the Kremlin’s “little green men” deployed on 28 February, 2014, had taken over government buildings and airports across the Crimean Peninsula. With minor modifications, Putin had taken a page from Stalin’s textbook in implementing the very same methods and tactics that had been used during the occupation of the Baltic states in 1940 – military force, regime change, falsification of elections, and a subsequent request for “protection” from the USSR/ the Russian Federation.

Refat, I have the utmost conviction that the Ukrainian people will never give up nor concede the annexation of Crimea. This brutal act will never be recognised by the Crimean Tatars, which for the second time in one century have been forced into exile.  You must remember that you are not alone, as this act of aggression and violation of international law by the Russian regime has been condemned by the EU, US, Canada and other members of international community that call for the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Until this return of territory has taken place, the Kremlin will continue to face robust sanctions.

On a final note, may the fate of the Baltic states give you strength and hope! We achieved the restoration of our independence only after half a century of oppression. I truly believe in my heart that the Crimean Tatars will also one day return to their homes in freedom and in peace.

Best wishes,

Sandra Kalniete