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Turkey Vows To 'Actively Support' Meskehtian Turks

A Meskhetian Turk who was living in Ukraine's eastern conflict zone leaves Kharkiv for Turkey in December 2015.

Turkey has vowed to continue "to support the cause" of the Meskhetian Turks, voicing solidarity on the 74th anniversary of their deportation from Georgia to Central Asia under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

In a statement on November 14, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Ankara is "closely" following "the conditions and repatriation process" of Meskhetian Turks.

Some 115,000 Meskhetian Turks, also known as Ahiska Turks, were deported from Georgia in cattle cars on November 14, 1944, by the Soviet government, which accused them of loyalty to Turkey.

Almost 13,000 people -- many of them children and the elderly -- died during the trip across the steppes of southern Russia to Central Asia.

Unlike the majority of other ethnic groups deported from the Caucasus under Stalin during World War II, Meskhetian Turks have never been officially rehabilitated.

Although Georgia adopted a law on their repatriation in 2007, Meskhetian Turks have faced numerous bureaucratic obstacles in obtaining documents from Georgian authorities allowing them to return to their historic homeland.

There are some 600,000 Meskhetian Turks in the world, most of them in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and the United States.

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