In recent hours, statements and positions issued by officials and heads of parties in Turkey with regard to Syrian refugees inside the country have escalated, in a remarkable phenomenon that has raised Syrians’ concerns.
The most prominent position in this context was that of the head of the Nationalist Movement Party, Devlet Bahçeli, the most important ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He said, “Our main goal is to say goodbye to Syrian refugees, after eliminating the harsh conditions that forced them to leave their country.”
In statements published by the Hurriyet newspaper on Tuesday, Bahçeli called for the “deportation of those who disturb public and societal security” inside his country and are subject to “temporary protection” from the Syrians. He said: “They must be deported immediately outside the borders without mercy.”
He also stressed that Syrian refugees “who can go home, especially on holidays, do not have to return,” referring to Syrians from the temporary residency campaign, whom Turkey grants the right to visit their country for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holidays.
He also accused those he described as “instigators” of using Syrian refugees as a pretext “to amplify differences,” warning that such incitement posed a danger and would “open the door to catastrophic consequences.”
Bahçeli’s statements were considered by many observers of Turkish affairs as a great development, and they will inevitably have repercussions. They linked this to the upcoming elections next year.
Opposition meets Assad regime
It was not hours after Bahçeli’s “qualitative” position, until the leader of the opposition Victory Party, Umit Ozdag, came out to announce a meeting that would be held soon between members of his party and the Syrian regime’s foreign affairs to coordinate the return of refugees.
It was followed by a position from Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu on Wednesday afternoon, in which he said that “the refugees will of course return home,” stressing that there are “plans we are working on for this,” without disclosing the details.
Syrians, who are accustomed to being instigated by Turkish opposition figures and parties, are more afraid today. The campaign of statements has now reached parties who were far from such points of view and used to critique and reject them. However, these campaigns now are also taken from the highest positions in the Turkish government.
Soylu’s remarks on Wednesday were not the first, and it seems that they will not be the last, and it may witness more “verbal” escalation, with the fear that it will turn into an actual escalation.
A major race to talk about the deportation of Syrians between Turkish politicians and the opposition is raising the concerns of Syrians, who previously feared one of the sides (the opposition) and are now afraid of both sides.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.