PHOTO: Syrian refugee family in Istanbul, Turkey (Turjoy Chowdhury)
Up to 300,000 Syrian refugees living in Turkey may be given citizenship under a plan to keep the wealthy and Syrians in the country, according to Turkish media reports.
The claims follow last week’s statement by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggesting that Syrians could become Turkish citiznes.
The Turkish daily Habertürk said nationality will be given step-by-step, with initial plans covering 30,000 to 40,000 Syrians and giving eligibility to family members. Educated refugees from other countries could choose to become nationals as well.
The plan would waive the provision of living in Turkey for at least five years before gaining citizenship. Syrian refugees will be able to vote in elections one year after being granted nationality.
Erdoğan’s proposal, made on July 2, has been criticized by opposition parties as a bid by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to obtain additional votes. The Republican People’s Party deputy chair Veli Ağbaba said:
The AKP is clearly showing that it is thinking of its political prosperity rather than the lives of these oppressed people by looking from the viewpoint of religion and sect, its election calculations and its assimilation plans. The fact that some 3 million people could suddenly become citizens would create trauma in society.
Nationalist Movement Party deputy chair Semih Yalçın said, “First of all, [it] would change the demographic structure in southeastern Anatolia. In a political meaning, 3 million people equals 10% [of the total] vote.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party warned that creating constituents through cheap labor would only deepen already existing prejudices against refugees.