Turkey meets expectations of Ahiska Turks: Foreign minister
About 100,000 Ahiska Turks granted citizenship, long-term residence permits, says Mevlut Cavusoglu
Turkey continued to meet expectations of Ahiska Turks, who moved to Turkey due to the conflict in Ukraine, the Turkish foreign minister said on Friday.
"About 100,000 (Ahiska Turks) living in Turkey have been granted citizenship and long-term residence permits,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a meeting of the Union of World Ahiska Turks held in Turkey’s Mediterranean resort city of Antalya.
Cavusoglu, who attended the meeting virtually, said that nearly 3,000 Ahiska people were settled in the Ahlat district of the eastern Bitlis province and the Uzumlu district of the eastern Erzincan province.
Underlining that they are working with all state institutions to meet the needs of Ahiska Turks, including employment, he said Turkey will never abandon them.
“Fortunately, our brothers and sisters preserved their identity despite all the difficulties and migration. They preserved their language and religion, they never forgot their Turkishness,” he added.
He also congratulated Ziyaddin Kassanov who was re-elected head of the union on Friday.
On Nov. 14, 1944, around 100,000 Ahiska Turks were deported from their ancestral lands in Georgia’s Meskheti region to distant parts of the Soviet Union.
During nearly 40-day deportation from homeland to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, around 13,000 Ahiska Turks lost their lives due to hunger, cold weather, and diseases.
Up to 500,000 Ahiska Turks scattered across nine countries, including Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, the US, and the Central Asian republics.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar
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