Remarks to Commemorate 65th Anniversary
Victims of Communism Memorial, Washington D.C., 18 May 2009
of Crimean Tatar Deportation by Stalin Regime
Esteemed members of the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian community,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for joining us in commemorating the 65th anniversary since the deportation of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia and other remote places of the former Soviet empire.
While we mark this sad chapter in history, we ought to remember three sets of circumstances.
First, the deportation, exile, starvation and execution of Crimean Tatars was yet another horrible crime of the inhuman communist regime. A regime that not only was an accomplice in unleashing World War II, but also engaged in massive extermination of its own people. A regime that committed a crime of genocide against Ukrainians during the famine of 1932-33. A regime whose followers attempt to re-write history to glorify tyrants and to contempt its innocent victims.
Therefore, it is very symbolic and appropriate that our wreath-laying ceremony takes place by the pedestal of the Victims of Communism Memorial, and I acknowledge with pleasure the presence of the President of the eponymous Foundation.
Second, since regaining its independence, the government of Ukraine has been conscientiously creating favorable conditions to enable the Crimean Tatars to return to their historical homeland and to continue exercising their cultural and religious rights and needs, but also to help them accommodate to new economic and living conditions. In the last 18 years, over 1 billion hryvnias were allocated from the central budget to build almost half a million square meters of housing, 900 km of water pipelines, 1200 km of electricity grids, 370 km of gas pipelines, 110 km of roads, and a dozen of schools. The Ukrainian authorities are fully supportive of the development of the original Crimean Tatar language, culture and media. They included today's date as the official commemorative day to be honored throughout Ukraine, and today such events are taking place around the country.
This responsible position of Ukraine was welcomed and praised by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and other international organizations.
Finally, Ukraine is famous for its consistent policies to preserve and foster inter-ethnic and inter-confessional peace and cooperation in the society. Crimean Tatars, like many other ethnic groups in Ukraine, will continue to enjoy comprehensive civil rights as they are accorded to all the citizens of Ukraine, and the cultural heritage of Crimean Tatars is an inherent part of the cultural heritage of the Ukrainian nation. We take pride in our cultural diversity, which is one of the cornerstones of European civilization.
Once again, we have gathered here not only to commemorate the past and to honor the victims, but also to look into the future with more confidence and mutual assistance that will make us stronger in the face of multiple contemporary challenges.
Embassy of Ukraine
Posted 24 May 2009