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Wealthy Syrian refugees 'to be favoured' for Turkish citizenship

Impoverished Syrian refugees in Turkey are unlikely to benefit from citizenship [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 10 July, 2016

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Following Erdogan's announcement that Syrian refugees in the country will have a chance to obtain Turkish citizenship, reports now suggest that wealthy and skilled Syrians will have priority for nationality.
Skilled and wealthy Syrians are likely to be the prime beneficiaries of the scheme to grant Turkish citizenship to refugees, according to leaked details of the project.

The proposal was announced last week when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Syrians refugees living in Turkey will have a chance to become citizens.

It is expected that 30,000 Syrians will be granted Turkish citizenship with a total number of 300,000 by the end of the project.

The proposal to give Syrian refugees citizenship was first proposed ahead of parliamentary elections in June last year, but was delayed for fear of it being used against the ruling AKP party in the elections, according to newspaper, The New Turk.

It added that the policy is "not only intended to favour refugees" but also for the Turkish state to revisit its immigration policies and "take advantage of people with experience who are able to enrich Turkey in the field of science and technology and who are able to contribute to the economy."

The naturalisation process will be prioritised for white collar workers, such as doctors and engineers, before technicians and workers who the government is seeking to integrate into the labour system.

Another class likely to benefit is businessmen and wealthy Syrians due to their ability to invest in Turkey, and to prevent them from moving their resources to Europe.

The report stressed that the process would be gradual, as the first step would be to search for refugees with professions.

The ultimate goal would be to provide citizenship to an estimated 300,000 Syrian refugees. However they will not be permitted to vote in elections that take place in the first year following the process.

According to current Turkish laws, the requirement for citizenship in the country demands residency for a period of five years, but Syrians will be able to take citizenship in a shorter time after passing through security checks.

The newspaper also pointed out that the government is taking all necessary measures to prevent any misunderstanding by Turkish citizens regarding the granting of citizenship to refugees.

The project to grant Syrians citizenship referenced the Gallipoli battle, during which the Ottoman army and Syrians fought side by side against the British Army, preventing them from advancing on to Istanbul, the capital of the Caliphate at the time.

Turkey hosts over two million Syrian refugees and was one of the few countries to allow Syrians to enter without a visa. Refugees have also used the country as a launch pad to Europe through Greece.

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