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Jan 23 2019

Over 30,000 Ahiska Turks granted Turkish citizenship

Turkey has granted citizenship to more than 30,000 Ahiska Turks, a group of ethnic Turks that inhabited Georgia's Meskheti region on the border of Turkey, pro-government Yeni Şafak daily quoted the head of The World Union of Ahiska Turks, as saying on Wednesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2015 facilitated the settlement of the group in Turkey and has given priority to their situation, Yeni Şafak quoted Fuat Uçar as saying.

Ahiska Turks, also known as Meskhetian Turks, were expelled from Georgia’s Meskheti region by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1944, facing discrimination and human rights violations before and after the Soviet deportation.

Many of them who migrated to Ukraine in 1990 settled in shantytowns and fled their homes during the 2014 conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists. Turkey moved in to accept thousands upon President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s instructions.

A total of 3,000 Ahiska Turkish of  677 families were brought to Turkey’s central province of Sivas, Uçar said, and efforts have been underway to grant them citizenship along with social security, work permits and retirement rights since Sept. 2018.