Turkic minorities and communities from the Balkans to the Caucasus came together on the virtual platform.
The Working Group of Turkic Minorities/Communities (TAG) in the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) held its 6th Annual Meeting on 22 December 2020 online as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which has affected the world as a whole. The FUEN TAG meeting, which was initially planned to be held on 9-12 August 2020 in Cherkessk in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic and be hosted by the Social Organisation for Fostering and Development of the Karachay-Balkar Traditions (Bars El), was moved online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and Turkic minorities and communities which are FUEN members came together on the virtual platform.
In the meeting, which was held in Zoom, the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF), the Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association (WTMUGA) and the Friendship, Equality and Peace (FEP) Party representing the Turkish community in Western Thrace, 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, the Social Organisation for Fostering and Development of the Karachay-Balkar Traditions (Bars El) representing the Karachay-Balkars, the Kosovo Youth Union Association representing the Turks in Kosovo and after several years of participation in FUEN TAG meetings and its formal membership to FUEN at the occasion of FUEN 2020 Congress, the regional civil society organization “Qumuqlar” in charge of the protection of the Kumuk language and the coordination of Kumuk projects also attended the meeting. Kırcaali Turkish Culture and Arts Association from Bulgaria, which is not yet a member of FUEN but attended FUEN TAG meetings in the past, and the Ukrainian Gagauz Union representing the Ukrainian Gagauz people, also participated in the meeting.
The meeting started with the opening speech of FUEN Vice President Halit Habip Oğlu. Habip Oğlu expressed that they could not physically come together to the meeting which was initially to be hosted by Karachay-Balkars as a result o the Covid-19 pandemic which has affected the world as a whole but that they were very pleased to be together within the virtual platform. Habip Oğlu stated that it is not physically possible to attend meetings in 2020 due to the pandemic, and that they continue to communicate and cooperate with FUEN TAG members by e-mail. In the continuation of the meeting, the participating organisations recorded important developments with respect to Turkic minorities and communities that they are representing in the countries where they live as well as the work carried out by their associations in this process.
In the afternoon session of the two-session meeting, the Covid-19 pandemic and the situation of Turkic minorities/communities were discussed. The participating organizations have relayed the activities that they carried out as representing Turkic minorities and communities with respect to the fight against the virus and to find ways in protecting from the virus in the countries where they live in since the pandemic first started in March 2020. In addition, participating organizations expressed their experiences and problems with access to information in the mother tongue and learning in the mother tongue during the pandemic, access to health services and language education during the distance education process.
FUEN TAG will meet regularly on the online platform in 2021
During the meeting where FUEN TAG’s work plan and roadmap for 2021 were discussed, proposals for active use of the FUEN TAG website and social media accounts were discussed. The Turkic minorities and communities participating in the meeting decided to follow an active study at the international level in 2021, this in relation to the changing conditions of the pandemic and underlined the importance of raising the issues by attending international meetings in line with this decision. In addition, Turkic minorities and communities participating in the meeting decided to meet regularly on the online platform in 2021, depending on the conditions of the pandemic.