Representatives of the Slavyansk Meskhetian community are planning to leave the city and migrate to Turkey. This information, spread by some Turkish Media, was confirmed by one of the activists of Slavyansk Muslim community, preferring to remain anonymous.
According to the source, respective appeal has been sent to the Turkish Embassy in Kyiv. “We asked that the Turkish party provided us assistance with resettlement and housing facilities. Such decision was made according to the tense situation lasting in the city recently. People are afraid to leave their homes, living in constant fear,” — the activist noted.
After his words, the Turkish Embassy officials asked to provide them with a list of people willing to resettle, and promised all the necessary assistance. About 300 families want to leave Slavyansk in general, which makes about 1500 people.
Turkey adopted a law “On Immigration And Settlement Of Meskhetians” in 1992, having guaranteed their resettlement to the country both on their own and within the state resettlement programmes. According to our source, this was one of the main reasons which influenced the decision to seek refuge in this particular country.
Meskhetian Turks also known as Meskheti Turks, and Akhaltsikhe / Ahiska Turks (Turkish: Ahıska Türkleri) are the ethnic Turks formerly inhabiting the Meskheti region of Georgia, along the border with Turkey. In 1944, the Meskhetian Turks were accused of smuggling, banditry and espionage in collaboration with their kin across the Turkish border. Approximately 115,000 Meskhetian Turks were deported to Central Asia and only a few hundred have been able to return to Georgia ever since. There are lagre communities in Turkey and USA.
Meskhetian Turks are predominantly Sunni Muslims with a Shiite Muslim minority. 7 to 15 thousand of this ethnic group live in Ukraine according to the different estimates, mostly in Eastern and Southern regions (Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk).