Turkey should hold referendum on offering citizenship to Syrians: CHP leader

Turkey should hold referendum on offering citizenship to Syrians: CHP leader

Turkey should hold referendum on offering citizenship to Syrians: CHP leader

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Turkey should hold a referendum on offering citizenship to Syrians, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has said, criticizing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over his remarks on granting citizenship to Syrian refugees in Turkey. 

“What is the reason are you giving Syrians citizenship? If you insist on it, you always talk about the ‘national will,’ so let’s ask the people,” CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said during a parliamentary group meeting of his party on July 12. 

Kılıçdaroğlu said Turkey should rebuild houses demolished in Syria rather than giving homes in Turkey to Syrians.

“You say you will give [Housing Development Administration of Turkey] TOKİ homes to Syrians. But there are houses demolished in Syria, let’s rebuild them,” he added. 

Erdoğan raised eyebrows on July 2 when he suggested that Syrians in Turkey could be granted Turkish citizenship if they filed an application and met a number of criteria. He further detailed the plans 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 that Turks had a “shared history” with Syrians.

Saying that at a time when an estimated three million Syrians are living in Turkey, CHP head Kılıçdaroğlu stressed that six million people are currently unemployed and 17 million people are living in poverty in Turkey.

“Europe heaved a sigh of relief with this [Erdoğan’s] statement. Europe has not taken in even 500 refugees, while our population of 78 million people has accepted three million people. Turkey should instead work for [a solution in Syria] so the Syrians can go back after the war,” he added.
“There is also a security risk [to accepting such high numbers of refugees],” Kılıçdaroğlu also said, suggesting that the “difference between a terrorist and an innocent person is unknown.” 

“Ghettos will be formed in big cities and this will cause tension. If the government is doing this in order to design a new regime, it is a betrayal of Turkey. If it is doing this in order to gain votes to introduce the presidential system, it is a betrayal,” he added. 

Erdoğan’s proposal has been slammed by members of all three opposition parties at parliament in Ankara as a move aimed at garnering the votes of Syrians and tilting the sensitive demographic balance in Turkey’s southeast.

Kılıçdaroğlu also referred to recent incidents of tension between Syrians and Turks, saying there is “no reason for Turks to be angry at Syrians.” 

“Why are you angry at them? Those people have escaped from war. Who is the one who brought them here? Who is the one creating fights among brothers and sisters? We must help end the Syrian war and then the Syrians can go back to their homeland,” said the CHP leader.