Turkey is considering naturalizing some working Iraqi and Syrian refugees along with their families, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday. He added that among the over 3 million refugees the country had taken in were some who possessed “high levels of education, experience and means” and could “make a great contribution” to Ankara.
“Today, we are hosting over 3 million Syrian and Iraqis. This situation, which was anticipated for a short period at the beginning, necessitated more radical measures over time,” Erdoğan reportedly said addressing district governors.
“Among the people living within our borders are some with high levels of education, experience and means. Treating these people otherwise would mean a betrayal of humanitarian values. There are people who will make a great contribution to our country,” he added.
The president said the Turkish Interior Ministry is working on a program that would grant citizenship to these refugees and their families.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, over 4 million have fled Syria since 2011 when the country descended to civil war. The multifaceted war began as a peaceful protest part of the Arab Spring revolution.
Turkey has taken in over 2.8 million registered Syrians most of whom live in urban areas. Nearly 260,000 Syrians live in the 23 refugee camps in Turkey’s Hatay, Gaziantep, Kilis and Sanliurfa provinces.
Erdoğan also mentioned the string of terror attacks Turkey witnessed recently, the latest being the New Year attack at a prominent nightclub in Istanbul that left nearly 40 people dead.
“Turkey is under a great attack both internally and externally. These attacks are not because we are a weak country. These attacks are because we are a strong and powerful country,” he said.