MHP leader criticizes Erdoğan’s offer of citizenship to Syrians

MHP leader criticizes Erdoğan’s offer of citizenship to Syrians

MHP leader criticizes Erdoğan’s offer of citizenship to Syrians

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The leader of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over his remarks on offering citizenship to Syrians who are taking refuge in Turkey. 

“The issues regarding citizenship are not in the authority of the Presidency. Turkish citizenship is not a title that is left to the will of the Presidency,” MHP head Devlet Bahçeli said during the parliamentary group meeting of his party on July 12, as he added “the social dilemmas caused by Syrians threaten the peace of society.”

“We can share our bread, show the generosity of the Turkish nation and provide humanitarian help to the ones who need it; we don’t object to any of these. Bringing citizenship to the agenda with the calculation of votes is irresponsible. If there were TOKİ [the Housing Development Administration of Turkey] houses that could be given to the Syrians, why weren’t they given to the noble children of this nation?” Bahçeli asked. 

Erdoğan ignited the debate on July 2 when he said Syrians in Turkey could be granted Turkish citizenship if they filed an application and met a number of criteria. He detailed his plans to offer citizenship during his return trip from a NATO summit in Warsaw on July 11, suggesting that dual citizenship may be granted to applicants.

“Today, a Turk can go to Germany and become a German citizen; [a Turk] can go to the U.S. and become an American citizen; why can’t the same be possible for people living in our country?” Erdoğan asked, stressing Turks even had a shared history with Syrians.

Saying that Turkish citizens migrated to Germany in the 1960s and 1970s upon an invitation from Berlin as the country had a reduced workforce, Bahçeli noted the situation of Turks in Germany and Syrians in Turkey were as different as “night and day.” 

“I’m calling on everyone regardless of their different political beliefs and parties to show their democratic objection regarding Turkish citizenship. Turkish nationalists won’t stay silent to Turkey being partitioned and being dragged towards a fraternal fight. We will object to it until the end,” he said.  

Erdoğan’s proposition was slammed by members of all three opposition parties represented in parliament in Ankara as a populist political move aimed at garnering the votes of Syrians and tilting the sensitive demographic balance in Turkey’s southeast.