Politics

Turkish official lauds Kazakh support for Ahiska Turks

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu thanks Kazakhstan 'for opening their land and houses to Ahiska Turks 75 years ago'

Zuhal Demirci and Muhammet Ikbal Arslan   | 23.05.2019
Turkish official lauds Kazakh support for Ahiska Turks

SHYMKENT, Kazakhstan/ANKARA

Turkey’s foreign minister Thursday praised Kazakhstan for its support to Ahiska Turks, also known as Meskhetian Turks.

“We would like to express our gratitude to the state and people of Kazakhstan for opening their land and houses to Ahiska Turks 75 years ago, we will never forget it,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said at an iftar, fast-breaking dinner, in Kazakhstan’s southern Shymkent province.

Cavusoglu thanked former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Kazakh administrators who supported Ahiska Turks.

He said more than 130 religious and ethnic groups live in peace in Kazakhstan.

“The architect of this situation is our wiseman Nursultan Nazarbayev.”

More than 30,000 Ahiska Turks have been granted Turkish citizenship, according to Fuat Ucar, the head of The World Union of Ahiska Turks.

Cavusoglu said additional 20,000 Ahiska Turks were granted with Turkish citizenship, while 20,000 others to received soon.

Some 92,307 Ahiska Turks were expelled from Georgia’s Meskheti region by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1944, according to the World Ahiska Turks Association.

During a near-40-day period of deportation from their homeland to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, around 13,000 Ahiska Turks lost their lives due to hunger, cold weather and diseases, the association said.

Turkey has voluntarily accepted thousands of Ahiska Turks upon President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s instructions.

Today, around half a million of Ahiska Turks live in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, the U.S. and Ukraine.

*Writing by Erdogan Cagatay Zontur

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