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Georgian knot of national problems2013-04-04 14:47
National question has recently re-arisen in Georgia. This time we are talking about the possible repatriation of Meskhetian Turks from Central Asia to Georgia. More precisely, to the region of Samtskhe-Javakheti, which is mainly populated by the Armenians. The prospect of repatriation of Meskheti Turks causes concern of the locals due to their phobias about the probability of a mass return. Meanwhile, experts and politicians believe they should not worry about their return since this process is actually eroding.
The repatriation of Meskhetian Turks from Central Asia and the Krasnodar Territory of Russia has surfaced after the recent statements by the Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili in Ankara, as well as by the head of the Georgian Foreign Ministry Maya Panjikidze in Baku. "We have received more than 5000 applications of the desire to return. At present, we are considering these appeals. About 800-900 people have filled up documents for citizenship. We only need to make a small change to the legislation of the country, so they can come back," Panjikidze said during her recent visit to Baku.
The experts believe that the statements by senior Georgian officials in Baku and Ankara have purely diplomatic nature and are unlikely to say specific details about the mass immigration of Turks to the villages of Javakheti. But even a political statement on the subject arouses negative emotions among the residents of Javakheti. Some villages of Aspindza were once inhabited by the Turks. They mostly origin from Meskhetia, located next to Javakheti. Now, however, these regions have merged into one administrative district under well-known name in Samtskhe-Javakheti.
In 1944, under Stalin's order tens of thousands of Meskhetian Turks were deported to Central Asia. Many of them, trying to escape, left Uzbekistan in 1989, during the outburst of violence against them in Ferghana Valley. Since joining the Council of Europe, Georgia has committed to organize their repatriation, but so far the Georgian authorities did nothing concrete in this direction.
"For many years, they are talking that the Turks have to go back to our shores. The thing is that all of these villages, where they supposedly lived, are inhabited by the Georgians. What the government should do now - to drive the people out, to organize another deportation, like Stalin did, to allow the Turks to come back?" Vakho said in an interview with GeorgiaTimes. He lives in the Aspindza area. He lives modestly and is engaged exclusively in agriculture - he's growing a variety of vegetables. As he says, "We don't need new problems, especially of the national character."
When he talks about the possibility of repatriation of Meskhetian Turks we clearly feel a protest reaction. Although it seems that sometimes he restrains himself and chooses expression. Vakho still hopes it won't come to mass settlement of Turks, because, as he says, this can irritate the locals.
Despite the assurances of the experts, the issue of resettlement of Meskhetian Turks concerns the residents on the grounds that Saakashvili's administration chose Javakheti as a territory of their future residence. It's pretty interesting region in terms of climate and ethnic populations. In Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda, mostly populated by the ethnic Armenian, vegetables, nothing grows except potatoes. The area is mountainous, and winter lasts almost 7 months. If we descend 40 kilometers down, to Aspindza, we can see the cherry and grape orchards. Former Georgian authorities motivate their decision by the fact that in this region there is a free land fund, and property prices are low.