IVELASHVILI T.V. On the Identification of So-Called “Meskhetian Turks”

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2019.5.12

Тina V. Ivelashvili

Doctor of Sciences (History), Professor,

Samtskhe-Javakheti State University,

Rustaveli St., 106, 0800 Akhaltsikhe, Georgia

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Abstract. Introduction. The problem of repatriation of the Muslim population, so-called “Meskhetian Turks” exiled in 1944 from Samtskhe-Javakheti and acceptance of their national identity has long worried Georgian people. The opinions on this subject vary drastically. Depending on the political situation, this issue periodically emerges (possibly deliberately) as a controversy. Comparison and analysis of currently available written sources, special and general literature, documents, recently studied ethnographic materials finally provide an opportunity to define who the “Meskhetian Turks” are. In addition, they reveal who is benefiting from using this artificially created term and for what purpose.

Methods and materials. The materials concerning these problems and their classification are based on the methods developed by Ac.G. Chitaia, the founder of Georgian Ethnographic School. They contain different methods of complex-intensive as well as generalization and historical characters.

Analysis. Muslimized population (Tarakams, Kurds, Turks, and later Georgian Muslims) mostly lived in Akhalkalaki and Akhaltsikhe provinces before the exile. Prior to 1940, the religious and ethnic composition of the population was rather diverse. This area was inhabited by indigenous Christians and partly Islamized Georgians. They were later joined by sheltered Kurds, Turks, Armenians and Karapapakhs. Calling them “Meskhetian Turks” has a specific purpose and the term is artificially spread in Georgian society. This type of action does not happen in any other country. One may wonder if various governmental, non-governmental and international agencies that have appeared in Georgia like mushrooms after the rain, know about this fact. Or, maybe they know it but under the influence of the governing forces of “the new order” and wholesome funding they deliberately destroy the national identity and integrity of the centuries-old history of the Georgian nation. One should use the term “Muslimized Meskhetians” but never “Meskhetian Turks” (the diverse tribal muslim population exiled from Samtskhe-Javakheti) to refer to the population of several million indigenous muslimized Georgians who are living on their historic territory (Tao-Klarjeti, Kola- Artaani, Shavsheti, Lazistan, etc.), currently Turkey.

Results. The research process highlights the following: according to the results of the study, it becomes possible to develop a number of recommendations which will help the multiethnic population of Samtskhe-Javakhethi live in a peaceful way and accelerate the adaptation and integration processes.

Key words: Meskhetian-Turks, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Muslims, Christians, repatriates.

Citation. Ivelashvili T.V. On the Identification of So-Called “Meskhetian Turks”. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2019, vol. 24, no. 5, pp. 162-171. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2019.5.12.

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On the Identification of So-Called “Meskhetian Turks” by Ivelashvili T.V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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