ERZINCAN, Turkey (AA): More than 300 Meskhetian Turks from the Turkish-speaking minority in eastern Ukraine arrived in Turkey’s eastern Erzincan province early Friday.
The group also known as Ahiska Turks have fled their homes during the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern region of Ukraine.
This is the fourth group that has so far been brought to Turkey. Approximately 1,200 Ahiska Turks have arrived in three separate groups since December to the Uzumlu district of Erzincan where the government has provided furnished apartments.
Erzincan’s deputy governor Ahmet Turkoz told Anadolu Agency that around 595 families will be brought to Erzincan.
“Our president [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] made agreements to bring Ahiska Turks to Turkey, when he visited Ukraine last year,” Turkoz said.
In April 2015, the Turkish Council of Ministers enacted measures allowing at least 3,000 Meskhetian Turks to be accepted by the Turkish government as legal asylum seekers.
According to the World Ahiska Turks Association, nearly 25,000 Ahiska Turks live in Turkey. In 1944 they were expelled from their homeland, the Meskheti region of Georgia, by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
Many migrated to Ukraine with the break-up of the Soviet Union, where they settled in shantytowns used by seasonal workers.
[Meskhetian national flag. By Tarkan/GNU Free Documentation License]