SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- Crimean Tatar language experts have approved a move to stop using the Cyrillic alphabet and return to the Latin alphabet, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.
The issue was discussed by dozens of linguists and other language experts at a special seminar held in Simferopol, Ukraine, on February 15. The experts presented research outlining the grammar of the Crimean Tatar language using the Latin alphabet and agreed on orthographic rules for it to be written using Latin letters.
They have also recommended that the World Congress of Crimean Tatars (KTDK) formally approve the change.
Eden Mamut, the secretary-general of the Black Sea Regional Union of Universities and professor at Romania's Ovidius University, said establishing a common orthography for Crimean Tatar based on the Latin alphabet is an important step in helping unite the some 1.4 million Crimean Tatars who live in several different countries, the majority in Turkey.
KTDK President Refat Chubarov stated at the seminar that "there is no other alternative for the creation of a productive, communicative system for understanding between all Crimean Tatars than returning to the Latin alphabet and developing a single Crimean Tatar language."
Crimean Tatars are an indigenous people of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula who were deported by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to Central Asia in the 1940s. Many returned to Crimea after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Crimean Tatars used the Arabic alphabet before the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia in 1917. They were then forced -- as were all other Muslim minorities in the Soviet Union -- to use the Latin alphabet. They were later ordered to use Cyrillic starting in the 1940s. Many Crimean Tatars abroad still use the Arabic and Latin alphabets, while those living in post-Soviet countries use Cyrillic.