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GEORGIA PLEDGES TO ENSURE MESKHETIAN TURKS' COMEBACK

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MOSCOW, April 26 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia shall meet all obligations taken in the Council of Europe, including return of Meskhetian Turks once deported from Georgia, Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili said at a RIA Novosti press-conference.

"We shall live up to all the commitments taken by Georgia because such is Georgia's position and role on the world scene," he said.

Salome Zurabishvili admitted that Georgia is morally indebted to the Meskhetian Turks. "These people were unjustifiably deported and we should create conditions for them to return home."

"But we all should realize that Georgia, a country with its specific social and economic conditions, has already provided shelter for 300,000 refugees and displaced persons and therefore one can hardly expect a prompt solution for this problem," argues the Georgian minister. "A stage-by-stage approach is required, which however does not alter in any way Georgia's obligations towards the Meskhetian Turks."

The Meskhetian Turks were deported from Georgia to Central Asia in 1944. Later, several thousand people moved temporarily to the Krasnodar region in the hope to use it as a bridge to their historical homeland.

On Georgia's joining the Council of Europe in 1999, the issue of the displaced persons' return home was raised and Georgia pledged to accept Meskhetian Turks on its territory, accomplishing the process by 2015.

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