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Turks in Azerbaijan

Turks in Azerbaijan
Total population
38,000 (2009 census)[1]

19,000 Ottoman Turkish descendants (not including the Meskhetian Turks or Turkish citizens)[2]

100,000 Meskhetian Turks (1999 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimate)[3]

90,000 to 110,000 Meskhetian Turks (other estimates)[4][5][6][7]

plus 17,577 Turkish citizens[8]
Regions with significant populations

Turks in Azerbaijan are Turkish people who live in Azerbaijan Republic. The community is largely made of Ottoman Turkish descendants, Meskhetian Turks and recent immigrants from Turkey.


Ottoman migration

Ottoman Turks began to settle in Azerbaijan when the region came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire between 1578 and 1603 and then again in the second Ottoman conquest of 1724 until the end of World War I in 1918. The First All-Union Census of the Soviet Union in 1926 recorded 8,570 Ottoman Turks living in the Soviet Union. The Ottoman Turks are no longer listed separately in the census; it is presumed that those who were living in Azerbaijan have either been assimilated into Azerbaijani society or have left the country.[9] Approximately 19,000 descendants of the Ottoman Turks (not including the Meskhetian Turks) are estimated to be living in Azerbaijan.[2]

Meskhetian Turks migration

The Meskhetian Turks first arrived in Azerbaijan at the end of the nineteenth century, and more followed in 1918-1920.[10] However, migration to Azerbaijan increased dramatically after World War II when the Soviet Union was preparing to launch a pressure campaign against Turkey. Vyacheslav Molotov, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, demanded to the surrender of three Anatolian provinces (Kars, Ardahan and Artvin); thus, war against Turkey seemed possible, and Joseph Stalin wanted to clear the strategic Turkish population situated in Meskheti, located near the Turkish-Georgian border which were likely to be hostile to Soviet intentions.[11] Thus, in 1944, the Meskhetian Turks were forcefully deported from the Meskheti region in Georgia and accused of smuggling, banditry and espionage in collaboration with their kin across the Turkish border.[12] Nationalistic policies at the time encouraged the slogan: "Georgia for Georgians" and that the Meskhetian Turks should be sent to Turkey "where they belong".[13][14] Joseph Stalin deported the Meskhetian Turks to Central Asia (especially to Uzbekistan), thousands dying en route in cattle-trucks,[15] and were not permitted by the Georgian government of Zviad Gamsakhurdia to return to their homeland.[13]

Between the late 1950s and 1970s, about 25,000 to 30,000 Meskhetian Turks settled in Azerbaijan;[5][10] furthermore, approximately 50,000 Meskhetian Turkish refugees came to Azerbaijan due to continued discrimination[16][17][18][19] when the Meskhetian Turks living in Uzbekistan became the victims of riots by the ethnic Uzbeks in the Ferghana valley which led to over a hundred deaths.[20] Most of the first wave of Meskhetian Turkish refugees from the Ferghana Valley settled in the Saatli and Sabirabad region and the regions of Khachmaz, Beylagan and Baku.[19] Some 5,000 Meskhetian Turks have also arrived to Azerbaijan from Russia during the 1990s, and a few hundred arrived from Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan proper during the 1991-1994 war.[19]

Mainland Turkish migration

Azerbaijan has witnessed increasing numbers of immigrants from Turkey. By 2009, 17,577 Turkish citizens were living in Azerbaijan.[8]


Turks in Azerbaijan according to the Azerbaijani census[1]
Azerbaijani census Turks %
1959 200 0%
1970 8,500 0.2%
1979 7,900 0.2%
1989 17,700 0.2%
1999 43,400 0.5%
2009 38,000 0.4%

The Meskhetian Turks are settled mostly in rural areas and in the cities of Baku, Beylagan, Khachmaz, Saatli, and Sabirabad. Those living in urban areas tend to be better off than those in agricultural areas.[19][5]


According to the 2009 Azerbaijani population census there were 38,000 Turks living in Azerbaijan.[1] However, official data regarding the Turkish community in Azerbaijan is unlikely to provide a true indication of the population as much of the community is officially registered as "Azerbaijani".[21] Furthermore, no distinction is made in the census between Meskhetian Turks and Turks from Turkey who have become Azerbaijani citizens, both groups are classified in the official census as "Turks" or "Azerbaijani".[1]

Approximately 19,000 descendants of Ottoman Turkish migrants are still living in Azerbaijan and practice Sunni Islam.[2] However, since the twentieth century a new wave of Turkish migrants arrived from Georgia (Meskhetia) and Turkey. In the late 1950s and 1970s approximately 25,000 to 30,000 Meskhetian Turks settled in Azerbaijan[5][10] and a further 50,000 Meskhetian Turkish refugees arrived from Uzbekistan in 1989.[17][16] According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 100,000 Meskhetian Turks were living in Azerbaijan in 1999[3] Academic estimates have suggested that the Meskhetian Turkish community of Azerbaijan numbers 90,000 to 110,000.[4][5][6][7] In addition, as of 2009, there were 17,577 Turkish citizens living in Azerbaijan.[8]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b c d The State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan. "Population by ethnic groups". Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  2. ^ a b c Minahan, James (1998), Miniature Empires: A Historical Dictionary of the Newly Independent States, Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 19, ISBN 0313306109
  3. ^ a b UNHCR 1999, 14.
  4. ^ a b Pentikäinen & Trier 2004, 13.
  5. ^ a b c d e Aydıngün et al. 2006, 13.
  6. ^ a b Burford 2011, 42.
  7. ^ a b NATO Parliamentary Assembly. "Minorities in the South Caucasus: Factor of Instability?". Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  8. ^ a b c Çalışma ve Sosyal Güvenlik Bakanlığı. "YURTDIŞINDAKİ VATANDAŞLARIMIZLA İLGİLİ SAYISAL BİLGİLER (31.12.2009 tarihi itibarıyla)". Archived from the original on 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2011-09-27.
  9. ^ Akiner 1983, 381.
  10. ^ a b c Coene 2009, 67.
  11. ^ Bennigsen & Broxup 1983, 30.
  12. ^ Tomlinson 2005, 107.
  13. ^ a b Kurbanov & Kurbanov 1995, 237.
  14. ^ Cornell 2001, 183.
  15. ^ Minority Rights Group International. "Meskhetian Turks". Archived from the original on 2009-04-29. Retrieved 2011-06-02.
  16. ^ a b Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (18 December 2007). "Report on mass human rights violation". Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-17.
  17. ^ a b United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2003, 21.
  18. ^ Daniloff, Caleb (1997). "Exile of the Meskheti Turks: Still Homesick Half a Century Later". Azerbaijan International. Retrieved 2012-01-17.
  19. ^ a b c d Pentikäinen & Trier 2004, 19.
  20. ^ Ryazantsev 2009, 167.
  21. ^ Helton, Arthur C. (1998). "Meskhetian Turks: Solutions and Human Security". Open Society Institute. Archived from the original on 2007-04-15. Retrieved 2012-01-17. |chapter= ignored (help)