Erdogan Offers Citizenship to Refugees From Syria and Iraq

Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoganTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that some Syrian and Iraqi refugees who pass a screening process will be granted Turkish citizenship.

In a speech broadcast on television on Friday, Erdogan said that security checks would be carried out to determine who among the millions who fled war in their home countries were eligible for citizenship, Aljazeera reported.

“Our interior ministry is carrying out work, and under this work, some of them will be granted our nationality after all the necessary checks have been carried out,” he said.

“There are highly qualified people among them; there are engineers, lawyers, doctors. Let’s make use of that talent ... Instead of letting them work illegally here and there, let’s give them the chance to work as citizens like the children of this nation.”

Erdogan added that the ministry “is ready to implement the measure at any time”. But he gave no further details, notably about how many would gain Turkish nationality.

According to Turkish government figures, the country is hosting more than three million Syrians and Iraqis who have fled conflict.

The Turkish leader outlined a naturalization plan last summer but the idea was met with angry protests and xenophobic comments on social media.

The country’s political opposition saw the plan as a scheme to widen Erdogan’s electoral basis at a time when he is pushing for constitutional reform to strengthen his powers.

 Aftermath of Attempted Coups

Turkey has dismissed more than 6,000 people and ordered the closure of dozens of associations under the state of emergency imposed after the failed coup in July, in a purge that showed no sign of slowing.

More than 100,000 people have already been suspended or sacked so far in a crackdown on those alleged to have links to coup plotters while dozens of media outlets have been shut down.

The dismissals are permitted under the state of emergency, which was extended by another three months in October, and was originally imposed in the wake of the coup.

But its scope has been vehemently criticized by the European Union and human rights activists.

The three decrees also ordered the closure of more than 80 associations accused of “activities affecting the security of the state”.

Critics have claimed that the crackdown goes well beyond the suspected coup plotters and targets anyone who has dared show opposition to Erdogan.

 Turkish PM Visits Iraq

Iraq’s state TV says the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has arrived in Baghdad in his first visit since the two governments quarreled over the presence of unauthorized Turkish troops in northern Iraq.

The Saturday report did not give details on the schedule of Binali Yildirim’s two-day visit. On his Twitter account, the Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad, Faruk Kaymakci, said, “We hope that his visit will open a new chapter in Turkey-Iraq relations.”

The presence of some 500 Turkish troops in the Bashiqa region, northeast of Mosul, has stirred tension with Baghdad since late last year.

Iraq says they are in “blatant violation” of Iraqi sovereignty and had demanded their withdrawal. Turkey says the troops were invited by Iraqi forces and has ignored the calls.


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