31 March 2021

TİKA Supports an Ancestral Sport in Kyrgyzstan

Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) provided equestrian equipment to a kokpar team formed by Meskhetian Turks in Kyrgyzstan.

TİKA provided jerseys, saddle sets, and artificial goats to 12 players of a kokpar team formed by young Meskhetian Turks living in the city of Tokmok, located 100 km from the capital, Bishkek.

The delivery ceremony held at the racecourse was attended by Cengiz Kamil Fırat, Turkey’s Ambassador to Bishkek; his wife, Vasilika Fırat; Osman Usta, TİKA’s Bishkek Coordinator; Atamsha Dursunov, President of Association of Meskhetian Turks of Kyrgyzstan; and local people.

The red jacket, designed in the colors of the national flag of Kyrgyzstan, has the flags of Kyrgyzstan and Turkey on its sleeves, TİKA’s logo on its chest, and the names Akhaltsikhe and Tokmok, as well as the squad number, on its back. Atamsha Dursunov, President of Association of Meskhetian Turks of Kyrgyzstan, thanked the government and people of Turkey for their support for 12 players of the kokpar team. Then, he dressed Ambassador Fırat and TİKA’s Bishkek Coordinator Usta in Kyrgyz kalpaks and traditional clothes. Dursunov also gave a painting by Canpolat Kahramanov, a famous Meskhetian Turkish painter, as a gift to Ambassador Fırat. The painting depicts the exile of Turks from Akhaltsikhe.

Ambassador Fırat stated that he met the kokpar team consisting of Meskhetian Turks last year and that the team informed them about their need for equestrian equipment. He said, “We are extremely happy to help Meskhetian Turks who play kokpar, a traditional Turkish sport, in their ancestral lands.” Noting that the jersey designed for kokpar players symbolized the solidarity between the two countries, Fırat said, “This is the first kokpar team formed by Meskhetian Turks in Kyrgyzstan. We wish them success. Currently, they are playing in the national league. They are in the second and third place. Hopefully, they will be promoted to the first league. We will continue to support them.”

TİKA’s Bishkek Coordinator Usta noted that they provided the necessary equipment to the kokpar team upon the request of Atamsha Dursunov, President of Association of Meskhetian Turks of Kyrgyzstan, and said, “Protecting cultural values means protecting the values that define us. Kokpar, the legacy of our ancestors, is one of these values. As TİKA, we are very happy to contribute to this amazing project.”

Süleyman Camalov, the founder of the kokpar team, stated that Meskhetian Turks and Kyrgyz people live together as brothers and sisters, support each other in every sense, respect each other, and share their experience by playing kokpar every week.

The players wearing the jerseys provided by TİKA had their souvenir photos taken with participants and showed off their skills on the racetrack.

Approximately 100,000 Turkish people and Muslims living in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia, were exiled by the Stalin administration to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan by train on November 14, 1944. The total population of Meskhetian Turks who settled in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia, the USA, and Turkey during the Soviet era and after 1989 is estimated to be 500,000.

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