Turkey may issue 300,000 wealthy and skilled Syrian refugees with Turkish nationality to encourage them to stay, a Turkish newspaper reported.
The newspaper Haberturk said Saturday that the issuance of Turkish citizenship would occur gradually, with the first stage including between 30,000 and 40,000 Syrians (out of about 2.7 million) living in Turkey, until it reached 300,000.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on July 2 that he would study the issue of giving citizenship to Syrian refugees.
Only 10 percent of Syrians in Turkey live in camps close to the border, while the others are trying to integrate into society and the labor market. Legally, Turkey does not consider them refugees but “guests.”
Ankara hopes that the skilled refugees will remain in the country in order to invest and inject their capital into the economy, “especially the wealthy Syrians who want to go to Europe.”
As with refugees from other countries, the Syrians who enjoy a high level of education and professional skills will get preference.
Experts say that Erdogan hopes to obtain electoral support from Syrians who obtain citizenship. Haberturk reported that new citizens will not have to wait more than a year until they can participate in elections.
The newspaper added that members of their families can also obtain Turkish citizenship.
Syrian refugees will be exempt from the regular legal requirement that stipulates a minimum residency of five years to apply for citizenship.
However this project has sparked a fierce response on Turkish social media, with criticisms on Saturday on Twitter focusing under the hashtag “NoSyrians.”
In January, Turkey announced that it would provide Syrian refugees with work permits. The Labor Ministry reported that 5,502 Syrians had obtained work permits since the announcement.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author