Ankara receives angry response from Circassians

Uzuncaorman/Agency Caucasus – A group of Circassians were in the Hendek district of Sakarya on Saturday to voice joint reaction against interference from the Turkish government in cancelling the plans of Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh to take a trip October 17-24 to . 

A group of approximately 500 Circassians came on Saturday from across to meet in the Uzuncaorman village of the Hendek district of Sakarya, a nort-western city in . 
Bagapsh was already scheduled to take part in activities in Uzuncaorman before his trip was officially cancelled. Without him, the group had to gather at 1 pm in Uzuncaorman.

The program began with one-minute silent homage to those who were killed in Abkhazia, and . 


Kadir Erkaya was the first to speak as President of the Caucasian Association of Culture in Sakarya in overt complaint about the prevention of Bagapsh’s trip to , because, he said, it hurt the honour of Abkhazian Diaspora to have the impression that their presence in the country was not valued.   

‘Shall we be thankful even though our guest was rejected in his appeal to visit the country?’  

Suat Celikci, a representative of the Youth Commission of the Abkhazian Association, was the second to speak, though harshly this time: “Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh had to cancel under immense pressure from the Turkish government his trip to , where he would have embraced his people, though all kinds of preparation were already in place. Some statement is certain to come from Turkish officials about the cancellation. However, no statement whatsoever to come now or later will not definitely be binding for us. The Turkish government seriously hurt us in our heart. We are not the representatives of the Abkhazian people; we are, however, Abkhazians. We have been shot through in our metaphorical attachment to joint values. We sacrificed our lands for our guests. How can we be expected to thank those for forcing our guests to go back after they came all the way down here?”     

Celik concluded his speech with words that follow: “We, as North Caucasians , are most crowded when someone from us die. The cancellation of Bagapsh’s trip has actually been a funeral-like occasion for us to attend. We are sure that all North Caucasians will participate in the joint reaction against the Turkish government.” 

Mecidi Cengiz, the program coordinator, tried to ease the tension over Celik’s words when he attributed it to typical youth reaction: “Celik could have been less forceful in his words; he is just much too young to realize the immediate implications of his words.”   

Demiroz: It was just a request of its kindest kind  

Handan Demiroz, a representative of the Democratic Circassian Platform, was forceful in her verbal reaction against Turkish blockage of Bagapsh’s trip: “Circassians have been living in this country [] over the past one and a half century. These people have been willing to sacrifice even their lives in service of the nation. It was very normal of us to invite Bagapsh over here. However, the Turkish Foreign Ministry did not allow him to come over here and see us. For this not to happen over again, we ought to have active involvement in politics from now on, which should not be taken to be an act of treason. We have to do more than teaching some Circassian to people.” 

‘It’s pointless fighting the state organization’

Ata Kati, President of the United Federation of Caucasian Associations, was less forceful in his words: “We ought to be more tolerant. We ought to avoid things that can damage national integrity here. It is pointless fighting the state organization. Abkhazia announced its own independence on the basis of the right accorded to each nation to govern itself. Unison would solve a lot of problems.”    The ruling Turkish government representative vows to help

Saban Disli, an AKP deputy, of Sakarya, was responsive and apologetic in his words: “Some things went wrong. I would be pleased to hear you say that Bagapsh’s trip was postponed, not cancelled. I will be doing my best to let the government officials as well as the President Abdullah Gul himself know what really happened. I suggest that we all go next week to Ankara, capital of , where we can address our questions duly. And be assured that you will be responded to.”    

‘It was not nice to stop Bagapsh from taking his trip’

Cihan Candemir, President of KAF-FED, the Federation of Caucasian Associations, was more calling for attention to commonsense while he spoke: “The trip was not really postponed; it was prevented. It is our ownmost right to react. However, we need to moderate in our reactions. It is really not nice to stop Bagapsh from taking his trip without ever bothering to state the reason behind it. The Turkish Foreign Ministry is biased in its approach towards Abkhazians. And we condemn this. We just cannot accept this kind of unfairness. Aid to only works in further support of its aggressive policies. With receiving aid and positive assistance, the region is facing the increasing threat of a civil war. should be equal in its efforts to lift the embargo on and Abkhazia, both. As for us… We should be more positive in our enthusiasm. We need unity both in war and outside war.”     

Nail Serbes, a member of the World Circassian Union, was optimistic in his words: “I think that what seems to us to be bad today will turn out to be good in the near future.”

Talih Hotus and Soner Gogua, two members of the Abkhazian parliament, who moved from to Abkhazia; Leva Ayuzba, another Abkhazian deputy; and Vladimir Ayuzba, an Abkhazian representative in , all spoke in Abkhazian language.

‘Long live , long live Abkhazia’

Irfan Argun, President of the Committee for Solidarity between Caucasians and Abkhazian, is the person who coordinated the process of Bagapsh’s cancelled trip, and was the last to speak. Argun was critical of the Turkish attitude towards Abkhazians, which was pioneered first in 1992 when the then Turkish president Suleyman Demirel refused to host the first Abkhazian President Vladislav Ardzinba.   

“I will never forgive Mr. Demirel for his negative attitude towards Abkhazians. Georgians were strong in terms of lobbying then to affect the Turkish stance on Abkhazia since the war. Why was Bagapsh unable to come over here? The Turkish Foreign Ministry did not want it to happen. When he tried to come for the first time, he was much too ill to come here. And his plans of trip were always postponed. The Turkish Foreign Ministry told the Committee of Abkhazia to postpone his trip. We will follow the reasons behind the cancellation all through the end. We will find out the actual motive behind the Turkish interference in Bagapsh’s plans. We only want that Turkey should recognize Abkhazia in its full presence. It is not nice of Turkey to pay attention to Georgians only, with Abkhazians left aside completely. We still hope that things will get better. Hopefully, we will meet Bagash next time he comes here. And, we want you to unite just as you did right after the war ended. Long live the Turkish Republic, long live Abkhazia.”


Youths were not satisfied with the reactions


The Abkhazian youths expressed dissatisfaction with the overall level of reactions. Before the program ended, the Abkhazian youths asked for permission to speak further because they thought that the reaction against the cancellation of Bagapsh’s trip was not strong enough.  

The quests from Abkhazia included Alek Logua, who advises Abkhazian President, Slavik Amicba, the Rostov Representative of the Abkhazian Republic, and the journalist Ludmila Cikipha. MB/HT/FT