Georgia's European Quest: The Challenge of the Meskhetian Turks

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Abstract

The article deals with the Meskhetian Turks (Ahiska Turks), who in 1944 were deported by Stalin from the Meskhetian region of Georgia to Central Asia and have still been unable to return to their ancestral land corresponding to the Meskheti part of present-day Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia. It analyses the factors behind the survival of Meskhetian Turks as a distinctive ethnic group despite their geographic dispersal across Eurasia and the wider world. It examines Tbilisi’s ambivalent policy towards Meskhetian Turks and its relationship with Georgia’s pro-European aspirations. It argues that Tbilisi is insincere in its commitment to the Meskhetian Turks’ repatriation and manipulates this issue to further its European quest. The main reasons for Georgia’s resistance to the Meskhetian Turks’ resettlement have been its primordially Georgian nation-building project, which is unfavourable towards ethnic minorities, its fear of antagonizing the Armenian minority which prevails in Samtskhe-Javakheti, its energy security considerations related to Javakheti’s central location on the route of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, and its concern for its territorial integrity, especially in the light of its de facto loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalCaucasus International
Volume4
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2 Dec 2015