Logo Wide

Turkey, Europe Draining Syria of its Educated Class: Syrian Officials

Syrian officials claim the country is facing pressures due to the large number of trained professionals leaving to Europe and Turkey since the beginning of the crisis
Turkey, Europe Draining Syria of its Educated Class: Syrian Officials

At least 3,000 Syrians with university degrees are in the process of obtaining Turkish nationality since Ankara announced it would offer citizenship to a number of refugees earlier this year, a Syrian parliamentary source said.

The source told Al-Watan that a number of qualified Syrians with university degrees have left Syria for other countries in the tens of thousands, but admitted there are no precise statistics regarding this number as many have fled illegally. He said that parliament will study the issue of Syrians gaining foreign nationality, in Turkey and other nations, as well as the possible problems surrounding the issue.

For his part, MP Mohamed Khair al-Akkam said that giving citizenship to Syrians with university degrees was a systematic and intentional effort, not just from Turkey, but a number of European countries, like Germany, to drain Syria of its skilled and talented and benefit from them. He added that German officials have spoken openly on this matter.

Akkam revealed to Al-Watan that the number of skilled migrants who have obtained Turkish citizenship was not a major proportion, but said the problem is not related to the number but instead the skills which Syria is losing.

He said that resolving the crisis in Syria by hastening the elimination of terrorism will help bring back most of the Syrians who have left the country. He pointed to government measures taken to help limit the migration and which will be attractive, such as raising wages, adding that it is possible to take many measures to reduce brain drain.

Akkam added that there are some young men who are obtaining Turkish citizenship because of a weak sense of national belonging and for personal aims. He said that the nationality law does not prohibit Syrians from obtaining other citizenships and they continue to hold Syrian nationality.

The parliamentarian said those who obtain Turkish citizenship and return to Syria were not written off by the nationality law as this is a matter of personal freedom, however this should encourage them to complete their national duties (military service) as defined by Syrian law.

Regarding the inadmissibility of obtaining citizenship from a hostile country, Akkam said that the Syrian government had not declared war on Turkey from a legal standpoint and so we must distinguish between the political and the legal positions.

Akkam stressed the need to reform the nationality law and develop it in accordance with the current circumstances.

The attorney general in Aleppo, Fadel al-Najjar, believes that President Erdogan’s government is trying to destroy Syria from every angle — including by giving citizenship to skilled and talented Syrians. He said that Turkey was trying hard to benefit from Syrian degree-holders.

In statements to Al-Watan, Najjar stressed the need to raise awareness among young people — especially through the media — to inform them of the dangers of accepting nationality. He noted that there were some men who had obtained nationality for work purposes while there were others recruited for other things harmful to the country.

Najjar believed that giving citizenship to Syrians with university degrees was a dangerous matter faced by Syrian society, especially given that its strength flows from the presence of skills and talents to build up what was destroyed by the crisis over the last six years.

For his part, the former High Education Minister Mohamed Amar al-Mardini announced that the number of students who were advancing to school exams was no more than 70 percent, out of 600,000 university students. The greatest proportion was women, in an indication of the severe decline in young men studying in universities.

Mardini told Al-Watan: There are some years when the rate of those advancing to exams in some universities was 50 percent. However, this cannot be connected to migration alone — there where many students who could not advanced to exams.

Mardini believed that there was a large drain of those who obtain university degrees in Syria by granting them citizenship in other countries, such as Turkey and other countries. He noted that the war on Syria included the drain of its intellectual resources including by giving them citizenship to guarantee they remain abroad and do not return to Syria.

This article was translaeted and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

Helpful keywords