A total of 55,000 people of Syrian descent have been granted Turkish citizenship over the past seven years, a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) announced on Tuesday.
AKP Antalya deputy Atay Uslu, in a speech at the Turkish Parliament, denied reports of Turkey’s intention to grant citizenship to around 3.5 million Syrians who have taken refuge in Turkey due to an ongoing civil war in their country since 2011.
Uslu said a total of 55,000 Syrians, more than 20,000 of whom are children, have been granted Turkish citizenship over the past seven years, adding that 10,000 of these children have been automatically granted citizenship because they were born in marriages between a Turkish and a Syrian parent.
“The number of Syrians who have become Turkish citizens so far, is around 1 percent [of the entire Syrian population in Turkey,” said the deputy, adding that Syrians are subject to the same criteria as people of other nationalities who want to acquire Turkish citizenship.
In a speech last year Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey’s Interior Ministry was working to grant citizenship to Syrians with certain qualifications who have taken refuge in Turkey due to the civil war in their country.
Erdoğan said Turkey has welcomed more than 3 million Syrians and Iraqis and that the Turkish people are treating them with hospitality and feelings of brotherhood.
“Among the people living within our borders are some with high levels of education, experience and means. Treating these people otherwise would be a betrayal of humanitarian values. There are people who will make a great contribution to our country. Our interior minister is now working to grant citizenship to these people,” he said.