Another leader from a nationalist Turkish party, the İYİ (Good) Party, has vowed to send the Syrians who have taken refuge in Turkey back to Syria as anti-refugee sentiment in the country continues to grow.
İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener announced her party’s “Migration Doctrine and Strategic Action Plan” at a party meeting in Ankara on Tuesday where she held President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responsible for the refugee problem in Turkey.
According to Akşener, there are at least 8 million refugees and illegal migrants in the country, with the policies of Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) turning Turkey into a “refugee warehouse.”
The İYİ Party leader said the anger over the growing number of refugees should be directed at Erdoğan and not the refugees themselves, while promising to have sent all Syrian refugees back to Syria by Sept. 1, 2026 if İYİ comes to power. She said all the measures to be taken by her party on its first day in office are ready.
Akşener said she is prepared to travel to Syria to meet with President Bashar al-Assad to ensure the return of the Syrian refugees if President Erdoğan does not want to engage in dialogue with Assad.
If the party cannot ensure the return of the refugees to Syria after negotiations with the Syrian regime and the European Union, the Syrians will be sent back to Syria by other means, Akşener said.
According to the İYİ Party’s plan, all illegal migrants in Turkey will be put in repatriation centers and sent back to their countries in the first year of the party assuming office, while stricter measures will be taken on the country’s borders with Iran, Iraq and Syria to prevent the arrival of 6.7 million potential refugees in Turkey.
The increasing number of refugees, who are held responsible for the many social and economic ills in the country, is one of the hottest issues as the presidential and parliamentary elections, slated for 2023, near.
In addition to the İYİ Party, its election partner, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Victory Party, which is notorious for its anti-refugee rhetoric, and several other small opposition parties are promising to solve the country’s refugee problem by sending the refugees back to Syria if they come to power.
Erdoğan, who is facing rising public anger over the refugees, and his government only talk about the voluntary return of Syrians while accusing other parties of pursuing anti-refuge policies.
Turkey is today home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees who fled after civil war broke out in 2011 in its southern neighbor.
The rising anti-refugee sentiment in the country frequently turns into acts of discrimination and physical attacks against the refugees and their properties.
In the latest example of such tragic incidents, a 17-year-old Syrian teenager, Faris Muhammed Al-Ali, was killed by an angry mob in the southern province of Hatay last weekend.