It is not surprising that
other minorities faced with the discrimination in Russia. However in the case
of the Ahiska Turks it was so called “soft ethnic cleansing”. The local
government used xenophobia against Ahiska Turks. The local authorities denied Ahiska
Turks right to register their residences in the territory; Ahiska Turks
couldn’t get “propiska” so they were not able to get social and medicine help,
higher education and job in Krasnodar (Aydingun et all, 2006: 9).
After the collapse of the
Soviet Union, the crisis of Ahiska Turks has gained international prominence.
All the efforts were to manage repatriation to southern Georgia to the
motherland of Ahiska Turks. Moreover the discrimination and human right
violations in Krasnodar became on agenda of internationals. For this reason, in
2004, the U.S. government joined the international effort to address the
ongoing crisis and proposed the option of U.S. resettlement for the long-
suffering Ahiska Turks in Krasnodar (Cobb, 2013).
1.3 The United States Ahiska
Turk Refugee Program in 2004
Meskhetian Turks are being
resettled widely across the United States, with preference being given to
cities where local communities and resettlement agencies have the capacity and
resources to accept new refugee arrivals. As of mid- June 2006, approximately
9,000 Ahiska Turks have been resettled in 33 states and the District of
Columbia, with Pennsylvania (785 individuals) and Georgia (623) host to the
largest numbers. Other sizable populations are found in Washington (590),
Illinois (508), Kentucky (499), Arizona (497), Idaho (471), Texas (417),
Virginia (417), New York (394), and Colorado (365) (Aydingun et all, 2006:14). It
seems that Ahiska Turks will easily integrate to American society and make a
positive contribution to their lives. Ahiska Turks are used to adopt to the new
circumstances and survive wherever they are.
Nevertheless starting life
in a new country with different culture, language and social structure is never
easy, and Ahiska Turks met with some difficulties. Before resettlement they
commonly were engaged in agriculture, however in the United States they
couldn’t continue cultivating lands. Thus Ahiska Turks had to change their
field of work. Another obstacle met by
Ahiska Turks, especially by elder members of society, is learning English.
Nevertheless, due to their survival skills, they can overcome such
difficulties. It is expected that Ahiska Turk community will make a positive
contribution to the future of the United States.
II. Ahiska Turks from the Different Parts of the World
According to Aljazeera Turk
sources, nowadays, roughly 540,000 to 550,000 Ahiska Turks live in nine
different countries: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan,
Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and in the United States. The following provides a brief
overview of the nine communities. Moreover in this section I will try to show
the activity of Ahiska Turks in inter- states level issues.