PanARMENIAN.Net - According to the bill those who are eager to return to Georgia must submit the relevant documents to the Embassy of Georgia in the countries of their current residence by January 1, 2009. The would-be citizen of Georgia is obliged to reject the citizenship of any other country, as well as to pass a test on the knowledge of the Georgian Language, History and Constitution.
Today there are only 700 Meskhs living in Georgia. According to some assessments, the overall Meskhi population living on the territory of former USSR is about 260-280 people, and from 300.000 up to 750.000 living around the whole world. The origins of the Meskhetian Turks are extremely complicated and have two principle versions existing. According to the first - pro Turkish version, the 80% of them are descendant of ethnic Turks, and the 20% are descendants of native Georgians and Armenians (the Hamshenis; also known as Khemshils), who have adopted Islam in XVII-XVIII centuries and have changed their language. There is also the pro-Georgian version, which says that most of the Meskhetian Turks are descendants of Meskhetian Georgians, with a little touch of ethnic Turks and Azerbaijanis, as well as Armenian speaking Khemshils. The territory of historical Meskheti corresponds with the three regions in Georgia - the region of Adigeni, Akhaltsikhe, and Aspindza, included in the region of Samtskhe-Javakheti, and with a certain region in Turkey. A small group of Meskhetians lived in the East of Ajaria and the North-East of the modern Turkey.
For the Armenians of Javakh the law on repatriation of the Meskhs is a reasonable threat and is fraught with rather negative outcomes. And though the speaker of the Georgian Parliament Nino Burjanadze assures that the repatriates will be settled around the whole territory of Georgia, a part of them, and most likely the largest part, will be settled in Javakh, and this is of great interest first of all to Turkey and Azerbaijan.
If the Meskhetians (Meskhs) are settled in Akhaltsikhe, the demographic situation, which will be in Ankara's hands, will change very soon. In Turkey the number of Meskhetian Turks who are willing to return is rather large, and the presence of the very Meskhetian Turks will allow Turkey to hold the power over the region. Moreover, Samtskhe-Javakheti province of Georgia is strategically of great significance to Turkey, and according to one of the scenarios allocation of Turkish military base instead of the Russian one is anticipated. The Armenians from Javakh cannot stay indifferent towards the issue, as they are well-aware of what such neighborhood may lead to. It shouldn't be forgotten that Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzrum gas pipeline go through Javakh, and Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railroad construction is also supposed to be carried out here. In this regard it is better to have a more obedient and quiet nation living by, than the Armenians and even the Georgians on this territory. It should particularly be underlined that in this issue Turkey's and Georgia's opinions somehow coincide with each other, as both countries are the parties interested in weakening of the Armenian influence in Samtskhe-Javakheti.
However, Georgia doesn't hurry to resettle the Meskhetian Turks in this region. Tbilisi's approach stands out with the fact that first of all Meskhetians are regarded as Turkicized Georgians, which serves as an attempt to ovoid the issue of the national minorities, which later may lead to big problems. Besides Tbilisi tries to settle the Meskhs all over the country and not concentrate them in the regions bordering on Turkey. In some sense it may be noted that here Yerevan and Tbilisi are of common opinion, but the whole question is how long Georgia will be able to resist the pressure form the West and Turkey; most probably not too long. The truth is however that perhaps when Saakashvili leaves the situation will change, but hardly to the better for the Armenian party, if not to the worse. The return of the Meskhetian Turks becomes a problem threatening Armenia's security, for the Turkish ring is almost getting tightened around Armenia.