Meskhetian Turks
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Georgia - mapMeskhetian Turks, or Meskhi, lived in the historical region of Meskhetia in south-western Georgia until 1944 (main town: Akhaltsikhe, near Ajaria). Their language belongs to the Turkish group (east-anatolian dialect) and they are mostly Sunni muslim (Hanafite). Meskhetian Turks are the consequence of the movement of Turkish settlers into the region during the rule of the Ottoman empire as part of Turkey's expansion. Their culture has a strong Georgian influence, and their origin is keenly debated, some saying they are Turkified Georgians, some advocating that they are Georgified Turks, and some saying the truth lies somewhere in between. The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in hardship for the Meskhetian Turks with pogroms reported, namely in Uzbekistan. Many Meskhetian Turks became refugees, concentrating in the Krasnodar region in southern Russia.
Most of these emigrated to the USA in 2004 following an American offer of asylum.

The first Meskhetian Turks entered Azerbaijan in the 19th century as deportees, more arrived in 1918-20. Later, in 1944 Stalin's ethnic cleansing of the Northern-Caucasus forced most Meskhetian Turks to central Asia, and some eventually migrated to Azerbaijan. In 1958-62 the settlement of over 20.000 families was sanctioned by the government in the areas of Saatli, Sabirabad, Khachmas and Shamkir. In the last days of the Soviet Union, pogroms in Uzbekistan brought the latest wave of Meskhetian Turks to Azerbaijan, which settled mostly in the area near the Georgian border, awaiting return to their ancestral towns and villages. It's hard to get exact numbers of the Meskhetian Turks in Azerbaijan, but most estimates point to something like 45.000 and 60.000, most of the living in rural areas of the country. The total population of Meskhetian Turks in the territory of the former-USSR is estimated at almost 300.000.

Although the their Turkic culture allows easy integation in Azeri society, their ultimate desire of the Meskhetian Turks is to be repatriated to Georgia. However after WWII many of their villages were resettled with Armenian refugees from Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Turkey, furthermore the multiple conflicts in Georgia and a certain lack of political will hasn't made things easy for them. Nevertheless some small groups have returned by their own means and a 1996 Georgian presidential decree allowed the re-settlement with government support of a large contingent Meskhetian Turks.
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