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Meskhetian Turks
Total population
c. 400,000[1] -500,000[2][3]- 629,000[4]
Regions with significant populations
 Azerbaijan 43,400[5]-90,000-110,000[6 ]
 Kazakhstan 90,000-110,000[6 ]
 Kyrgyzstan 25,000-30,000[6 ]
 Russia 50,000-70,000[6 ]
 Turkey 25,000-30,000[6 ]
 Ukraine 5,000-10,000[6 ]
 United States 15,000
 Uzbekistan 10,000-15,000[6 ]
 Georgia 1,000

Turkish  · Azeri  · Russian  · Georgian


Predominantly Sunni Muslims; minorities practice Shia Islam, Christianity or no religion.

Related ethnic groups

Turks, Azeris

Meskhetian Turks, also known as Muslim Meskhetians, or simply Meskhetians (Turkish: Ahıska Türkleri; Georgian: თურქი მესხები, t'urk'i meskhebi or მაჰმადიანი მესხები, mahmadiani meskhebi; Russian: Турки-месхетинцы, turki-meskhetintsy) are the former Turkish inhabitants of Meskheti (Georgia), along the border with Turkey. They were deported to Central Asia during November 15-25 1944 by Joseph Stalin and settled within Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Of the 120,000 forcibly deported in cattle-trucks a total of 10,000 perished.[7] Today they are dispersed over a number of other countries of the former Soviet Union.



During the rule of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1922), Turkish settlers moved into Meskheti as part of the Turkish expansion. The resulting mix of Turkish and Meskheti populations became known as the Meskhetian Turk.[8]

In 1958-62 the settlement of over 20,000 families was sanctioned by the government of Soviet Azerbaijan in the districts of Saatly Rayon, Sabirabad Rayon, Khachmaz Rayon and Shamkir Rayon.[9] In May 1989 a pogrom[10][11][12] of Meskhetian Turks occurred in the crowded and poor Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan as a result of growing ethnic tensions during the era of Glasnost. This triggered an evacuation of Meskhetian Turks from Uzbekistan. In the last years of the Soviet Union, pogroms in Uzbekistan brought the latest wave of Meskhetian Turks to Azerbaijan from 1989 onward, which settled mostly in the districts Balakan Rayon, Zaqatala Rayon, Qakh Rayon near the Georgian border. The Azerbaijani government, facing problems with its own 1 million internally displaced and external Azeri refugees from its break-away region of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, did not accept larger numbers and the further settlement of Meskhetian Turks to Azerbaijan was stopped in 1993.[13][14]

In the 1990s, Georgia began to receive Meskhetian settlers, provided that they declared themselves to be of ethnic Georgian origin. One of the human rights campaigners on their behalf was Guram Mamulia. Their resettlement created tension among the Armenian population of Samtskhe-Javakheti province. Turkey, seen as their homeland by many Meskhetian Turks themselves, started a program of resettling Meskhetian immigrants in the underprivileged, Kurdish majority eastern regions of the country. This program was for fewer than 200 individuals, and fell short of expectations. The government of the Soviet Union encouraged Meskhetians to settle in selected oblasts of the Russian SSR, and most received Russian Federation citizenship in 1992. The legal status of those who moved to Krasnodar Krai, however, remained undetermined, and many were Stateless.[15] Their presence caused tensions with the local Kuban Cossack population, who, according to human rights activists, in coordination with local authorities lead prosecutions of them. Russian authorities called the stateless Meskhetians "foreigners who have no right to remain in Russia" and play down reports about Cossack violence.[16] To help resolve the situation, the International Organization for Migration implemented a program to resettle Meskhetian Turks from the Krasnodar Krai to the United States between 2004 and 2007. In cooperation with the two governments (Russia and the US), approximately 11,500 individuals departed.

Meskhetian Turkish Dialect

Meskhetian Turkish is not recognised as a separate language though ethnic Meskhetians refer to it as Ahıska Türkçäsi / Аҳыска Тÿркчäси using a variant of the Uzbek Cyrillic alphabet. For the most part, the Turkish alphabet is more widely accepted when writing, which would attempt to follow more closely with Turkish orthography and vocabulary. The majority of the older generation Meskhetian Turks received their secondary education in Uzbekistan and other former Soviet republics, therefore, when writing, the Uzbek alphabet or Kazakh alphabet, or a combination of the two is used. Meskhetian Turkish has no standardised orthography or standardised alphabet. The Mesketian Turks, especially the majority of the older generation, who settled in Azerbaijan receive their entire primary and secondary education in the Azeri language, and due to the high mutual intelligibility of Meskhetian Turkish and the Azeri language to which it is most closely related, has heavily influenced their everyday language to such an extent that they speak a mixed language, and, when writing, use the Azeri language and the Latin-based Azerbaijani alphabet. The younger generation of Meskhetian Turks is more integrated or assimilated into the Azerbaijani population.

Meskhetian Turkish varies in severals way from Standard Turkish in pronunciation. Over the years, Meskhetian Turkish has picked up various sounds that are not represented in the Turkish alphabet. However, it should be noted that those differentiation at the dialect occurred after the exile in 1944. For instance, the sound [q] from Uzbek, represented by the letter q or қ in the word qabul etmäk or қабул етмäк and also the Uzbek pronunciation of the sound /ʁ/ represented by ğ or ғ instead of the Turkish. In Meskhetian, there is a obvious distinction made between [æ] and [ɛ], as opposed to Turkish. In addition to /h/, Meskhetian also makes use of the sound /x/.

Аҳыска Тӱрклӓринин Алфавити
Аа Ӓӓ Бб Вв Гг Ғғ Дд Ее Жж Җҗ Зз
Ии Ыы Јј Кк Ққ Лл Мм Нн Оо Ӧӧ Пп
Рр Сс Тт Уу Ӱӱ Фф Хх Ҳҳ Чч Шш

Ahıska Türklärinin Alfaviti
Aa Ää Bb Cc Çç Dd Ee Ff Gg Ğğ
Hh Xx İi Iı Jj Kk Ll Mm Nn Oo Öö
Pp Qq Rr Ss Şş Tt Uu Üü Vv Yy Zz

  • халк or xalk - people, compare with Turkish halk
  • ҳӓрбир or härbir - everyone, compare with Turkish herbir
  • қaбул eтмӓк or eтмaх - qabul etmӓk or etmax - meaning accept, admit, receive, approve, compare with Turkish kabul etmek
  • чoх or çox - meaning very, compare with Turkish çok
  • ҳӓ or - meaning yes. Compare with Turkish evet or he or hä (rural dialect)
  • jox or yox - meaning no. Compare with Turkish yok or yox (rural dialect) or hayır
  • сaғoлун or sağolun - рaхмäт or raxmät (Uzbek origin) - meaning thank you, compare with Turkish teşekkür or sağolun

See also


  1. ^ Ayşegül Aydıngün, Çigğdem Balım Harding, Matthew Hoover, Igor Kuznetsov, and Steve Swerdlow. "Meskhetian Turks". Retrieved 2009-01-25.  
  2. ^ Todays ZAMAN. "Will the Meskhetian Turks return to Georgia?". Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  3. ^ EveryCulture. "Meskhetians". Retrieved 2009-03-22.  
  5. ^ Source: The State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Council of Europe 2006, 23.
  7. ^ as retrieved on 29 April 2008 20:59:44 GMT
  8. ^ Wisconsin Department of Health Services. "Culture Profile: Meskhetian Turks". Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  9. ^ Azerb. "Meskhetian Turks in Azerbaijan". Retrieved 2009-07-02.  
  10. ^ Pål Kolstø, Andrei Edemsky (1995), Russians in the Former Soviet Republics, p. 224. Indiana University Press, ISBN 0253329175.
  11. ^ Kathleen. Collins (2006), Clan Politics and Regime Transition in Central Asia, p. 2006. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521839505.
  12. ^ J. Otto Pohl (1999), Ethnic Cleansing in the USSR, 1937-1949, p. 18. Greenwood Press, ISBN 0313309213.
  13. ^ Education in Azerbaijan. UNICEF.
  14. ^ Azerb. "Meskhetian Turks in Azerbaijan". Retrieved 2009-07-02.  
  15. ^ Russian Ministry of Foreign relations. "О положении турок-месхетинцев в Краснодарском крае Российской Федерации". Retrieved 2009-01-27.  
  16. ^ Peter Finn (November 18, 2005). "Revival of Cossacks Casts Muslim Group Out of Russia to U.S.". The Washington Post: p. A19.  


  • 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, ISBN 9287157545  .


  • 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.

External links



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