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Participants At Crimean Tatar Congress Condemn Crimea Annexation

Participants at the second World Congress of Crimean Tatars condemned Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, as the gathering opened in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on August 1.

"The first condition in order to achieve world peace, and peace among the people of Crimea, is to end the occupation of our homeland," said Refat Chubarov, the chairman of the Mejlis, an assembly for Crimean Tatars.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Kimkin said the annexation of Crimea in March 2014 "is temporary-- because it is illegal."

Kimkin was attending the congress in a show of solidarity with the Crimean Tatar community.

He said Ukraine wouldn't have normal relations with Russia until Crimea was returned to Ukraine and the Tatars who call it home.

The 300,000-strong Muslim minority make up less than 15 percent of Crimea's population of 2 million.

They were overwhelmingly opposed to the annexation.

Some 200 Crimean Tatars from various countries were expected to attend the two-day event.

Russian authorities blocked two local Crimean Tatar leaders from leaving Crimea on July 28 which prevented them from attending the congress.

Based on reporting by Reuters and