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Turkic minorities and communities gathered at the 3rd Thematic Seminar of FUEN TAG

The 3rd Thematic Seminar of the Working Group on Turkic Minorities/Communities (TAG) of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) took place online on 24 September 2021. Turkic minorities and communities came together at the seminar, which was held on a virtual platform.

The Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) and the Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association (WTMUGA) representing the Turkish community in Western Thrace, the Rhodes Kos and the Dodecanese Turks Culture and Solidarity Association (ROISDER) representing Rhodes and Kos Turks, the Public Organisation of Meskhetian Turks “VATAN” and the Public Union Of Meskhetian (Ahıska) Turks living In Azerbaijan “VATAN” representing Meskhetian Turks and the Tatar Democratic Union representing the Romanian Tatars all attended the online seminar.

The seminar began with a greeting speech by FUEN Vice-President and FUEN TAG Spokesman Halit Habip Oğlu. Habip Oğlu reported on the developments related to FUEN and FUEN TAG since the second thematic seminar in June 2021 and the activities carried out by FUEN. Stating that FUEN’s 65th annual congress was held in a hybrid format (physical and online participation) due to the Covid-19 pandemic in Trieste, Italy on 9-12 September 2021, Habip Oğlu noted that the Congress voted to adopt amendments to the FUEN charter and that the new charter would come into force in the coming months.
Following the greeting speech, President of the Tatar Democratic Union Naim Belgin, the new distinguishedmember of FUEN, expressed great pleasure in joining the FUEN TAG family and informed about the activities of the Tatar Community in Romania and the Tatar Democratic Union, which was established in 2008. Belgin stated that the aim of the Tatar Democratic Union is to preserve and maintain the language and culture of the Tatar community living in Romania, and that they publish books for this purpose.

On behalf of the Public Organisation of Meskhetian Turks “VATAN ", Head of Foreign Relations and Researcher Ansar Usmanov, delivered a presentation on the history and culture of Meskhetian Turks, the theme of the seminar, and their struggle to return to their ancestral lands in Georgia. Usmanov stated that the Meskhetian Turks, whose ancestral lands are located in the south of Georgia, were exiled by Soviet Leader Stalin on 14 November 1944, adding that the majority of Meskhetian Turks, whose total population is estimated to be about 450,000-600,000 today, live in Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan and the United States. Usmanov noted that Georgia passed a law in 2007, known as the ‘Return’ law, which was set as a condition of membership during Georgia’s accession to the Council of Europe in 1999, claiming that Georgia had fulfilled its obligations with the law, but that no return had been achieved in the time that has passed so far. Usmanov further indicated that the Russian Public Organisation of Meskhetian Turks "VATAN" representing Meskhetian Turks and the Public Union of Meskhetian Turks living In Azerbaijan “VATAN” are actively working both in Russia and Azerbaijan, where they are based, and on international platforms for the return of Meskhetian Turks to their
ancestral lands.

In the second part of the seminar, the participating organisations reported on the developments related to the Turkic minorities and communities they represented since the second seminar in June 2021 and their current problems and their work and activities.