Turkey granted citizenship to over 40,000 Ahıska Turks living in Turkey, said the head of the World Union of Ahıska Turks yesterday.
Ahıska Turks, also known as the Meskhetian Turks, were the 92,000 people forced to migrate to Georgia's Meskheti region by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1944.
Fuat Uçar, the head of the union that serves members of the community in nine countries, said the process is ongoing for another 20,000 applications seeking Turkish citizenship. "Also, brothers and sisters who came to Turkey but have not applied for the citizenship yet are expected to apply," said Uçar.
Significant works have recently been carried out for the benefit of Ahıska Turks upon the instructions of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The union has offices in 10 provinces across Turkey, the head said. He recalled that Ahıska Turks have enjoyed long-term residence permits in Turkey since March of last year. Uçar underlined those with that advantage benefit from the same rights as Turkish citizens.
He also said a commemoration event will be held at the presidential complex in November to mark the 75th year of exile. It will be organized jointly with the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB). "We will also hold a symbolic program in Ahıska, Georgia to commemorate the exile," Uçar said.
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.
Turkey has voluntarily accepted thousands of Ahıska Turks upon Erdoğan's instructions. Today, around half a million Ahıska Turks live in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, the U.S. and Ukraine.
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