UWC President Eugene Czolij concluded visit to Turkey
On 19-21 April 2018, Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) President Eugene Czolij fulfilled a visit to Ankara and Izmir, Turkey, to address important Ukrainian issues during meetings with its high-ranking government officials, representatives of civil society and the Ukrainian community.
During the meetings with high-ranking government officials, the UWC President thanked Turkey for supporting Ukraine in the defence of its territorial integrity, including the introduction of restrictive measures with respect to Crimea, and the humanitarian assistance, primarily in the form of medical treatment and healthcare for children and widows of the defenders of Ukraine’s Eastern borders. Eugene Czolij also noted the high level of Turkish-Ukrainian trade relations. He acknowledged the contribution to the development of Ukrainian cultural life in Turkey, particularly Ukrainian schools and the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Ankara, and also the Chair of Ukrainian Language in Istanbul. The UWC President also highlighted the magnitude of the ongoing hybrid warfare of the Russian Federation that poses a serious threat both for the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and peace and security in the world. Eugene Czolij called upon Turkey, a NATO member, to support the strengthening of ties between NATO and Ukraine, and furthering of the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Ukraine until it achieves full NATO membership. The UWC President also urged Turkey to abandon the Turkish Stream pipeline taking into account the repeated use of gas by the Russian Federation as a political weapon. He also emphasized the importance of the issuance of a Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Eugene Czolij appealed to the governing authorities of Turkey to include Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar programming on the main TRT television channel, and facilitate the broadcasting of Ukrainian television channels. In addition, the UWC President shared information on the significant successes of previously implemented reforms in various spheres of life in Ukraine, including in combatting corruption. In concluding, he urged Turkey to recognize the Holodomor as genocide of the Ukrainian people.
On 19 April 2018, the UWC President met with representatives of the Ukrainian Solidarity Union in Izmir chaired by Svitlana Eralp during which he further familiarized himself with the specifics of its work and discussed the means of strengthening continued cooperation with the UWC.
In separate meetings with Deputy Mayor of the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Sirri Aydoğan and Mayor of the Balçova Municipality in Izmir Mehmet Ali Çalkaya, the UWC President expressed gratitude for supporting the development of Ukrainian community life, including national-cultural activities.
On 20 April 2018, in Ankara, Eugene Czolij met with the leadership of the Ukrainian Union in Ankara chaired by Yuliya Mimaroğlu Biletska. During this meeting attention was focused on continued joint activities in furthering current Ukrainian issues.
That day, the UWC President held a meeting with Ambassador of Ukraine in Turkey Andrii Sybiha, and discussed current important issues, including the UWC appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch to issue a Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
A range of important issues related to the illegal occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and the gross violations of the human rights of the Crimean Tatar population Eugene Czolij discussed with the leadership of the Association for Culture and Mutual Assistance of Crimean Turks headed by Mükremin Şahin.
While in Turkey Eugene Czolij was accompanied by Director of the UWC Mission to International Organizations in Brussels Maryna Iaroshevych. Deputy Chief of Mission, Minister-Counsellor Natalia Lopatina and First Secretary for Cultural Affairs of the Embassy of Ukraine in Turkey Oresta Starak attended individual meetings in Ankara, and Consul General of Ukraine in Istanbul Oleksandr Gaman – in Izmir.
“The Ukrainian World Congress calls for Turkey to continue to actively support the territorial integrity of Ukraine, strengthen bilateral ties and support the national-cultural development of the Ukrainian community,” stated UWC President Eugene Czolij.
On 22 April 2018, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate stated:
“In accordance with the Divine and Sacred Canons, as well as centuries-old ecclesiastical order and Holy Tradition, the Ecumenical Patriarchate concerns itself with the preservation of Pan-Orthodox unity and the care for the Orthodox Churches throughout the world – especially of the Ukrainian Orthodox Nation that has received the salvific Christian faith and holy baptism from Constantinople. Thus, as its true Mother Church, it examined matters pertaining to the ecclesiastical situation in Ukraine, as done in previous synodal sessions, and having received from ecclesiastical and civil authorities representing millions of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians a petition that requests the bestowal of autocephaly, decided to closely communicate and coordinate with its sister Orthodox Churches concerning this matter.”
List of individuals with whom the UWC President met:
Altay Vural, Ambassador, Director General forthe Department of the Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia and Eastern Europe, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey
Aydin Ismail, Deputy of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Parliament), Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Aydoğan Sirri, Deputy Mayor of the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality
Çalkaya Mehmet Ali, Mayor of Balçova Municipality in Izmir
Dağli Tamer, Deputy of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Parliament), Member of the Justice and Development Party
Gaman Oleksandr, Consul General of Ukraine in Istanbul, Representative of Ukraine to the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation
Kiliç Alev, Ambassador, Director of the Center for Eurasian Studies
Şahin Hüseyin, Deputy of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Parliament), Head of the Turkey-Ukraine Friendship Group, Member of the Justice and Development Party
Şahin Mükremin, President of the Association for Culture and Mutual Assistance of Crimean Turks and Vice President of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars
Sybiha Andrii, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Turkey
Yildiz Ahmet, Ambassador, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey
Yilmaz Öztürk, Former Ambassador, Deputy of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Parliament), Vice-President of the Republican People’s Party
In the photo from left: M. Iaroshevych, E. Czolij, A. Yildiz and V. Altay