Turkey will continue to “actively support the just cause” of Ahiska Turks, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement marking the 75th anniversary of deportation of thousands during Soviet era.
In 1944, over 92,000 Ahiska Turks, also known as Meskhetian Turks, were expelled from Georgia’s Meskheti region by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, according to the World Ahiska Turks Association.
The Foreign Ministry said that many of Ahiska Turks lost their lives due to harsh conditions during the deportation, while the survivors faced grave challenges in places they were sent.
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, according to the association.
Up to 500,000 Ahiska Turks, scattered across nine countries, mark the 75th anniversary of their deportation, said the ministry.
Turkey will continue to support the Ahiska Turks to maintain their unity and identity and to transfer them to next generations in the countries they live, the statement noted.
“We wish that the process for the return of the Ahiska Turks to their homeland will be completed successfully and that they will continue to live peacefully in their home as well as in the countries they currently live,” it said.
“We feel the deep grief of Ahiska Turks on the 75th anniversary of their deportation and wish God’s mercy upon those who lost their lives during the deportation,” it added.
Turkey voluntarily accepted thousands of Ahiska Turks upon President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s instruction.
Today, around half a million of Ahiska Turks live in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, the U.S., and Ukraine.
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