(Photo credit: REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina)
Russian officials have said they “regret” Turkey’s refusal to accept the results of recent legislative elections held in Crimea, but that this disagreement should not affect bilateral relations.
“We don’t accept such statements [about non-recognition of the elections in Crimea] and we openly say this to our Turkish colleagues,” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on 21 September.
“Our positions on the issue of Crimea are dramatically different. We express regrets in connection with this stance, but we hope that political will would be shown over time and Turkey will change this position by simply acknowledging the truth and the real state of things,” Peskov added.
In an earlier statement posted on the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said: “Turkey maintains its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and does not recognize the unlawful annexation of Crimea.”
Russian troops entered the Crimean Peninsula in February 2014 and annexed the region formally in March of that year following a popular referendum, in which 97 percent of the region’s citizens voted for integration into the Russian Federation with an 83-percent voter turnout.
Since then, the Ukrainian government has been mired in conflict with separatist groups that has left over 13,000 people dead.
Ankara has for years maintained that it will not recognize what it calls Russia’s illegal occupation of the Crimean Peninsula, a decision which has led to rising tensions between the two global powers.