Samsun deputy Haluk Koc's speech on 23 April in support of Abkhaz children

Samsun deputy Haluk Koc's speech on 23 April in support of Abkhaz children who were excluded from the Turkish Festival.

Abkhazians In Turkey Deeply Hurt By TRT's Misstep
An invitation for children from Abkhazia to celebrate Children's Day with the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) was canceled when the TRT had to modify its invitation to Abkhazia, addressing the second invitation to the autonomous... 

An invitation for children from Abkhazia to celebrate Children's Day with the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) was canceled when the TRT had to modify its invitation to Abkhazia, addressing the second invitation to the autonomous region of Abkhazia instead of the Republic of Abkhazia. 

The result of the new invitation is that the children of Abkhazia will not participate in Children's Day, which is celebrated on April 23. "People of Abkhazian, Circassian descent in Turkey feel hugely disappointed about this attitude of the TRT," Engin Özkoç, a deputy from the Republican People's Party (CHP) has said. "For the first time, I've felt myself alone in this country," he revealed to Today's Zaman. 

Seemingly failing to take into account that the Republic of Abkhazia is not recognized by a great majority of countries in the world, including Turkey, and that it is seen as an autonomous republic in Georgia, the TRT had first sent an official invitation to the Republic of Abkhazia inviting its children to celebrate Children's Day, a national holiday in Turkey, and to which many countries are invited every year. 

But, perhaps upon strong protests from Georgia, a close partner of Turkey in the Caucasus, the TRT had to withdraw and reformulate its invitation to Abkhazia, this time being sure to address it to the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia. Because it considers itself an independent state, though it's only recognized by a few countries like Russia and Venezuela, Abkhazia has refused to send children to the festivites. 

The Abkhazian officials had warned TRT when the corporation first contacted them that the invitation of Abkhazia as an independent state may cause Georgia to react, Özkoç noted, but the TRT went ahead with its invitation all the same, affirming that there would be no problems. But after being seemingly warned by Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, TRT had to take a back its invitation. 

The costumes for the Abkhazian children who were to take part in the festivites were all ready. In fact, blood samples and arrival flight details of the group had already been sent to the TRT. Noting that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the TRT that it can't invite children from Abkhazia without the consent of the ministry, Özkoç said with disappointment, "You can't invite your kinsfolk to a festival organized in your country." 

In an effort to produce a solution to the problem, Özkoç took up the issue with Bülent Arinç, deputy prime minister, and Cemil Çiçek, speaker of the Turkish Parliament, both of whom told Özkoç that the children should not be the victims of politics. But as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is adamant in its stance, neither Arinç nor Çiçek were able come back with a positive answer. 

To not cause disappointment among the children after all the preparations have been made, people of Abkhazian/Circassian descent who live in Turkey have invited Abkhazian children, a group of 13, to Turkey to hold a performance in Istanbul. The performance will take place today at the Caferaga gymnasium in Kadiköy, a district on the Anatolian side of the Bosporus. 

Noting that elderly people from all ethnic groups, including Georgians, living in the Sakarya province, where a good number of people of Abkhazian/Circassian descent also live, said that they would love to host the Abkhazian children if they should come to Sakarya during their visit to Turkey. "They are so hurt," Özkoç said. 

(Cihan/Today's Zaman

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