Hande Fırat – ANKARA
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has warned that refugees who commit crimes will be deported from Turkey, amid increasing reports of clashes between Syrians and locals in several parts of the country.
“Those who cross the line are punished as deserved before the law. If necessary we will even deport them. No one should doubt that,” Yıldırım told reporters in the capital Ankara
on June 5.
“Turkish citizens should avoid any deed that would cast a shadow on our hospitality. But still everybody should know their place. Those [refugees] who commit a crime will find themselves outside of our borders,” he said.
“The conditions for acquiring citizenship are stipulated by the law,” he added in response to a question about the potential naturalization of Syrians in Turkey, which has long been debated.
“Without doubt, important conditions [for citizenship] include being well-mannered and showing loyalty to this nation and state,” Yıldırım added.
“There are very valuable people among the refugees who have had careers in their countries and who are well educated, including academics, scientists and doctors,” he said, adding the government is preparing for the naturalization of such refugees.
“We will give citizenship to those qualified brothers and sisters chosen from among the three million refugees after meticulous assessments,” Yıldırım said, stressing that the refugees who will be granted citizenship will be investigated thoroughly in terms of national security and public order.
The prime minister said the National Intelligence Agency (MİT), the Security General Directorate, the Immigration Office, and the General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality are all working in coordination on this subject.
“It is not possible to give citizenship or privileges to anyone who would disturb public peace. I want my citizens to be at ease. Turkey is a state of law,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry stated on July 5 that “occasional tensions” between Syrian refugees and locals have recently been “distorted and exaggerated to create indignation among the public.”
“The average annual rate of incidents involving Syrians in total public security incidents in Turkey between 2014 and 2017 is 1.32 percent,” it said, adding that most of those incidents were the result of disagreements among Syrian refugees.
It also noted that there was a five percent decrease in Syrians committing crime in 2017 compared to figures in the first six months of last year.
Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak, meanwhile, made a call for public tolerance following clashes between different ethnic groups in Ankara’s Yenimahalle district.
“We have seen a social reaction against Syrians lately. Of course, there are some among the 3 million of them who may have committed crime. But the crime rate of Syrians is lower than that of our own citizens,” Kaynak told daily Hürriyet on July 4.
“If there are safe zones in Syria, they will go back to their own lands,” he said.
“Turkey is approaching the issue solely from a humanitarian perspective. There are 1,200,000 helpless Syrian women in Turkey. We cannot ignore them,” Kaynak added.
He also referred to the clashes in Ankara, referring to it as a “provocation.”
“I can say there is a clear social incitement, a provocation. Those incitements are calling people to head to the streets. Police cyber-crime units are working on it,” Kaynak said.
Late on July 2, Turkish residents and Syrian refugee residents of the neighborhood engaged in clashes that left one person injured. Workplaces belonging to Syrian refugees and Iraqi Turkmens were damaged, Hürriyet reported.
Ankara Governor Ercan Topaca said tensions had been raised after a number of social media posts.
“A small argument turned into a fight. A clash between Iraqi Turkmen people and our citizens left one person injured,” Topaca said on July 3.
Kaynak called for Turkey’s public to remain “tolerant” of Syrian refugees.
“We should not forget these people are in Turkey temporarily and Turkey is hosting them in accordance with our customs with great sacrifices. Our people should not develop negative reactions about this issue,” he said.
“No one in Turkish territory has the freedom to commit a crime. If our citizens have suspicions of a crime being committed they should refer it to the related authorities,” he added.