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Meskhetian Turks

Meskhetian Turks
Ahıska Türkleri
Total population
350,000–400,000 (2006 academic estimate)[1]
600,000 (2011 academic estimate)[2]
Current estimates: 500,000[3][4] to 600,000[5]
Regions with significant populations
 Kazakhstan 150,000[6]
 Azerbaijan 90,000–110,000[6]
 Russia 70,000–90,000[6]
 Kyrgyzstan 50,000[6]
 Turkey 40,000[7]
 Uzbekistan 15,000[7]
 Ukraine 10,000[7]
 United States 9,000[7]
 Georgia 600–1,000[6]

Meskhetian Turks also known as Meskheti Turks, and Akhaltsikhe / Ahiska Turks (Turkey. The Turkish presence in Meskheti began with the Ottoman invasion of 1578,[9] although Turkic tribes had settled in the region as early as the eleventh and twelfth centuries.[9]

Today, the Meskhetian Turks are widely dispersed throughout the former Soviet Union (as well as in Turkey and the United States) due to forced deportations during World War II. At the time, the Soviet Union was preparing to launch a pressure campaign against Turkey and Joseph Stalin wanted to clear the strategic Turkish population in Meskheti who were likely to be hostile to Soviet intentions.[10] In 1944, the Meskhetian Turks were accused of smuggling, banditry and espionage in collaboration with their kin across the Turkish border. Approximately 115,000 Meskhetian Turks were deported to Central Asia and only a few hundred have been able to return to Georgia ever since.

Many Meskheti Turks were massacred by Armenians during the Khojaly Massacre in 1992.[11] Today, the Meskheti Turks are still one of the main racist victims in Georgia, due to difference between ethnics and religions.


  • Origins and terms 1
  • History 2
    • Ottoman migration 2.1
    • Soviet rule 2.2
      • 1944 deportation from Georgia to Central Asia 2.2.1
      • 1989 deportation from Uzbekistan to other Soviet countries 2.2.2
  • Demographics 3
  • Culture 4
    • Religion 4.1
    • Language 4.2
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Origins and terms

The origin of the Meskhetian is still unexplored and highly controversial. But now it seems to emerge two main directions:

  1. The pro-Turkish direction: The Meskhetians were ethnic Turks, in which some Georgian were ethnic parts.[12]
  2. The pro-Georgian direction: Islam in the period between the sixteenth century and 1829 when the region of Meskheti-Dzhavakheti was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.[13]

However, Anatoly Michailovich Khazanov has argued that "it is quite possible that the adherents of this view oversimplified the ethnic history of the group, particularly if one compares it with another Muslim Georgian group, the

External links

  • Robert Conquest, The Nation Killers: The Soviet Deportation of Nationalities (London: Macmillan, 1970) (ISBN 0-333-10575-3)
  • S. Enders Wimbush and Ronald Wixman, "The Meskhetian Turks: A New Voice in Central Asia," Canadian Slavonic Papers 27, Nos. 2 and 3 (Summer and Fall, 1975): 320-340
  • Alexander Nekrich, The Punished Peoples: The Deportation and Fate of Soviet Minorities at the End of the Second World War (New York: W. W. Norton, 1978) (ISBN 0-393-00068-0).
  • Emma Kh. Panesh and L. B. Ermolov (Translated by Kevin Tuite). Meskhetians. World Culture Encyclopedia. Accessed on September 1, 2007.


  • Aydıngün, Ayşegül; Harding, Çiğdem Balım; Hoover, Matthew; Kuznetsov, Igor; Swerdlow, Steve (2006), Meskhetian Turks: An Introduction to their History, Culture, and Resettelment Experiences (PDF), Center for Applied Linguistics 
  • Barton, Frederick D.; Heffernan, John; Armstrong, Andrea (2002), Being Recognised as Citizens (PDF), Commission on Human Security 
  • Bennigsen, Alexandre; Broxup, Marie (1983), The Islamic threat to the Soviet State, Taylor & Francis, .  
  • Blacklock, Denika (2005), Finding Durable Solutions for the Meskhetians (PDF), European Centre for Minority Issues 
  • Coşkun, Ufuk (2009), Ahiska/Meskhetian Turks in Tucson: An Examination of Ethnic Identity (PDF), University of Arizona 
  • Cornell, Svante E. (2001), Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, Routledge, .  
  • Council of Europe (2006), Documents: working papers, 2005 ordinary session (second part), 25–29 April 2005, Vol. 3: Documents 10407, 10449-10533, Council of Europe, .  
  • Drobizheva, Leokadia; Gottemoeller, Rose; Kelleher, Catherine McArdle (1998), Ethnic Conflict in the Post-Soviet World: Case Studies and Analysis, M.E. Sharpe, .  
  • Elbaqidze, Marina (2005), "Multiculturalism in Georgia: Unclaimed Asset or Threat to the State?", in Czyzewski, Krzystof; Kulas, Joanna; Golubiewski, Mikolaj (eds.), A Handbook of Dialogue: Trust and Identity .
  • Enwall, Joakim (2010), "Turkish texts in Georgian script: Sociolinguistic and ethno-linguistic aspects", in Boeschoten, Hendrik; Rentzsch, Julian (eds.), Turcology in Mainz, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, .  
  • Khazanov, Anatoly Michailovich (1995), "People with Nowhere To Go: The Plight of the Meskhetian Turks", After the USSR: Ethnicity, Nationalism and Politics in the Commonwealth of Independent States, University of Wisconsin Press, .  
  • Kurbanov, Rafik Osman-Ogly; Kurbanov, Erjan Rafik-Ogly (1995), "Religion and Politics in the Caucasus", in Bourdeaux, Michael (ed), The Politics of Religion in Russia and the New States of Eurasia, M.E. Sharpe, .  
  • Minahan, James (2002), Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: L-R, Greenwood Publishing Group, .  
  • Pepinov, Fuad (2008), "The Role of Political Caricature in the ultural Development of the Meskhetian (Ahiska) Turks", in Kellner-Heinkele, Barbara; Gierlichs, Joachim; Heuer, Brigitte (eds.), Islamic Art and Architecture in the European Periphery: Crimea, Caucasus, and the Volga-Ural Region, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag,  
  • Polian, Pavel (2004), Against Their will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR, Central European University Press, .  
  • Rasuly-Paleczek, Gabriele; Katschnig, Julia (2005), Central Asia on Display: Proceedings of the VIIth Conference of the European Society for Central Asian Studies, LIT Verlag Münster, .  
  • Rywkin, Michael (1994), Moscow's Lost Empire, M.E. Sharpe, .  
  • Seferov, Rehman; Akış, Ayhan (2011), Sovyet Döneminden Günümüze Ahıska Türklerinin Yasadıkları Cografyaya Göçlerle Birlikte Genel Bir Bakıs (PDF), Türkiyat Araştırmaları Dergisi 
  • Tomlinson, Kathryn (2005), "Living Yesterday in Today and Tomorrow: Meskhetian Turks in Southern Russia", in Crossley, James G.; Karner, Christian (eds.), Writing History, Constructing Religion, Ashgate Publishing, .  
  • UNHCR (1999a), Background Paper on Refugees and Asylum Seekers from Azerbaijan (PDF), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 
  • UNHCR (1999b), Background Paper on Refugees and Asylum Seekers from Georgia (PDF), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 
  • Wixman, Ronald (1984), The Peoples of the USSR: An Ethnographic Handbook, M.E. Sharpe, .  


  1. ^ a b c Aydıngün et al. 2006, 1.
  2. ^ Seferov & Akış 2011, 393.
  3. ^ Today's Zaman (15 August 2011). "Historic Meskhetian Turk documents destroyed". Today's Zaman. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  4. ^ Kanbolat, Hasan (7 April 2009). "Return of Meskhetian Turks to Georgia delayed". Today's Zaman. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  5. ^ Assembly of Turkish American Associations (5 February 2008). "ATAA and ATA-SC Visit Ahiska Turks in Los Angeles". Today's Zaman. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Aydıngün et al. 2006, 13.
  7. ^ a b c d Aydıngün et al. 2006, 14.
  8. ^ a b Aydıngün et al. 2006, 15.
  9. ^ a b Aydıngün et al. 2006, 4.
  10. ^ a b c d e Bennigsen & Broxup 1983, 30.
  11. ^ Hypertopia of the Armenian lobby, The Hill (newspaper)
  12. ^ Helmut Glück: Metzler Lexikon Sprache, 2005, p. 774
  13. ^ a b Khazanov 1995, 195.
  14. ^ Tomlinson 2005, 111.
  15. ^ Wixman 1984, 134.
  16. ^ Yunusov, Arif. The Akhiska (Meskhetian Turks): Twice Deported People. "Central Asia and Caucasus" (Lulea, Sweden), 1999 # 1(2), p. 162-165.
  17. ^ Tomlinson 2005, 110.
  18. ^ a b c d e UNHCR 1999b, 20.
  19. ^ a b Minahan 2002, 1240.
  20. ^ Polian 2004, 155.
  21. ^ Bennigsen & Broxup 1983, 31.
  22. ^ citation needed
  23. ^ UNHCR 1999b, 21.
  24. ^ The State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan. "Population by ethnic groups". Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  25. ^ a b UNHCR 1999, 14.
  26. ^ NATO Parliamentary Assembly. "Minorities in the South Caucasus: Factor of Instability?". Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  27. ^ Barton, Heffernan & Armstrong 2002, 9.
  28. ^ Coşkun 2009, 5.
  29. ^ a b Aydıngün et al. 2006, 23.


See also

The Meskhetian Turks speak an Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Russian, and Uzbek) which the Meskhetian Turks have been in contact with during the Russian and Soviet rule.[29]


Meskhetian Turks are predominantly Sunni Muslims with a Shiite Muslim minority.[8]



However, in Georgia, racism against Meskheti Turks is still in popularity, due to difference beliefs and ethnic tensions. [28] More recently, some Meskhetian Turks in Russia, especially those in

According to the 1989 Soviet Census, there were 207,502 Turks living in the Soviet Union.[1] However, Soviet authorities recorded many Meskhetian Turks as belonging to other nationalities such as "Azeri", "Kazakh", "Kyrgyz", and "Uzbek".[1] Hence, official censuses do not necessarily show a true reflection of the real population of the Meskhetian Turks; for example, according to the 2009 Azerbaijani census, there were 38,000 Turks living in the country; however, no distinction is made in the census between Meskhetian Turks and Turks from Turkey who have become Azerbaijani citizens, as both groups are classified in the official census as "Turks" or "Azerbaijani".[24] According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees report published in 1999, that 100,000 Meskhetian Turks lived in Azerbaijan and the defunct Baku Institute of Peace and Democracy stated, in 2001, that between 90,000 and 110,000 Meskhetian Turks lived in Azerbaijan,[25][26] similarly, academic estimates have also suggested that the Meskhetian Turksish community of Azerbaijan numbers 90,000 to 110,000.[25]

The settlement area of Meskhetian Turks, 1926.


In 1989, riots broke out between the Meskhetian Turks who had settled in Uzbekistan and the native Uzbeks.[18] Nationalist resentments against the Meskhetians who had competed with Uzbeks for resources in the overpopulated Fergana valley boiled over. Hundreds of Meskhetian Turks were dead or injured, nearly 1,000 properties were destroyed and thousands of Meskhetian Turks fled into exile.[18] The majority of Meskhetian Turks, about 70,000, went to Azerbaijan, whilst the remainder went to various regions of Russia (especially Krasnodar Krai), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan[18][23] and Ukraine.

1989 deportation[22] from Uzbekistan to other Soviet countries

[21] Unlike the other deported Muslim groups, the Meskhetians have not been rehabilitated nor permitted to return to their homeland. In April 1970, the leaders of the Meskhetian Turkish national movement applied to the Turkish Embassy in Moscow for permission to emigrate to Turkey as Turkish citizens if the Soviet government persisted its refusal to allow them to resettle in Meskheti. However, the response of the Soviet government was to arrest the Meskhetian leaders.[10] On 15 November 1944, the then

1944 deportation from Georgia to Central Asia

Soviet rule

In 1578, the Ottoman Empire managed to conquer Meskheti during the Ottoman-Safavid War (1578-1590), although it was not secure as a part of the Ottoman Empire until 1639, when a treaty was signed and brought an end to Persian attempts to retake the region.[17]

Ottoman migration

The historical Meskheti region of Georgia.



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