Turkey on November 14 pledged to continue "to support the cause" of the Meskhetian Turks, who were deported in cattle trucks from Georgia to Central Asia under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
In a statement put out on the 74th anniversary of the deportation, the Turkish foreign ministry said Ankara was "closely" following "the conditions and repatriation process" of the Meskhetian Turks. There are nowadays thought to be around 600,000 Meskhetian Turks in the world, with most of them in countries including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.
Around 115,000 Meskhetian Turks, sometimes referred to as Ahiska Turks, were deported from Georgia on November 14, 1944. The Soviet Union accused them of maintaining loyalty to Turkey. Historians say towards 13,000 of the deportees, including many children and elderly persons, perished during the trip across the steppes of southern Russia to Central Asia.
Georgia adopted a law for the repatriation of members of the ethnic group in 2007. However, many Meskhetian Turks wanting to return to their historic homeland have been unable to overcome red tape preventing them from obtaining required documents from Georgian authorities.
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