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Turkey, which has kept a low profile in the Ukraine crisis, is making moves to protect Crimea's ethnic Tatar minority as the region prepares for a referendum on joining Russia this week. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to support Crimea's Turkish-speaking Tatar minority, which Ankara fears could be sidelined in a March 16 vote on switching over to Kremlin rule. "Turkey has never left Crimean Tatars alone and will never do so," he said, after a phone call to Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month. Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed to protect the "rights of our kinsmen" after meeting with Ukrainian officials and representatives of the Tatar community during an unscheduled visit to Kiev earlier this month.