Thursday, November 15, 2018

74 Years Ago Today, Stalin Deported Turks from Georgia’s Meskhetia Region and Created a Nation Still without a Homeland

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 14 – On this date in 1944, Stalin ordered the deportation of more than 115,000 ethnic Turks from the Meskhetia region of the Georgian SSR in order to clear the way for a possible Soviet invasion of Turkey. But in so doing, the Soviet dictator helped form a new nation, the Meskhetian Turks, who tragically remain without a homeland even now. 

            The Federal Union of European national Minorities has issued a press release on this anniversary declaring that “we continue to support the Meskhetian-Turks in their struggle for the right to return to Georgia” which had been their home from time immemorial before Stalin sent them to Central Asia and Kazakhstan (

                Because of their size and the fact that they were not an established nation like the other peoples Stalin deported, the Meskhetian Turks have historically attracted less attention than they deserve. Only occasionally are they referred to as during the Fergana pogroms in May-June 1989 and the various moves of portions of the community since that time.   

            Some 105,000 of them have resettled in Russia, mostly in the oblasts, krays and republics of the North Caucasus to judge from the 2010 census; and approximately 21,000 had moved from there to the US under a special program giving them permanent resident status (

            Both Turkey which many Meskhetians consider a second homeland and Georgia which most consider their first have adopted special programs for repatriation and adaptation.  Some Meskhetians undoubtedly would like to go home to Georgia but many fear that the Georgians might turn against them in the future ( gruziya-obyazana-obesp).

            At the present time, the leaders of the nation say, there are more than 600,000 Meskhetians living in Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, the US, Georgia and other countries as well. Were all of them to go back to Georgia, that would dramatically change its ethnic composition – and possibly breed the reaction Meskhetians fear.

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