Çavuşoğlu lauds Kazakh support for Ahıska Turks
Turkey's foreign minister on May 23 praised Kazakhstan for its support to Ahıska Turks, also known as Meskhetian Turks.
“We would like to express our gratitude to the state and people of Kazakhstan for opening their land and houses to Ahıska Turks 75 years ago, we will never forget it,” Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said at an iftar, fast-breaking dinner, in Kazakhstan's southern Shymkent province.
Çavuşoğlu thanked former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Kazakh administrators who supported Ahıska Turks.
He said more than 130 religious and ethnic groups live in peace in Kazakhstan.
“The architect of this situation is our wiseman Nursultan Nazarbayev.”
More than 30,000 Ahıska Turks have been granted Turkish citizenship, according to Fuat Uçar, the head of The World Union of Ahıska Turks.
Çavuşoğlu said additional 20,000 Ahıska Turks were granted with Turkish citizenship, while 20,000 others to received soon.
Some 92,307 Ahıska Turks were expelled from Georgia's Meskheti region by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1944, according to the World Ahıska Turks Association.
During a near-40-day period of deportation from their homeland to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, around 13,000 Ahıska Turks lost their lives due to hunger, cold weather and diseases, the association said.
Turkey has voluntarily accepted thousands of Ahıska Turks upon President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's instructions.
Today, around half a million of Ahıska Turks live in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, the U.S. and Ukraine.