Turkey to naturalise some Syrian, Iraqi refugees
ISTANBUL - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday announced that some of the millions of Syrian and Iraqis who have fled to Turkey would be given Turkish nationality.
"Our interior ministry is carrying out work, and under this work, some of them will be granted our nationality after all the necessary checks" have been carried out, Erdogan said in a speech broadcast on television.
"There are highly qualified people among them, there are engineers, lawyers, doctors. Let's make use" of that talent, he argued.
"Instead of letting them work illegally here and there, let's give them the chance to work as citizens, like the children of this nation," he said.
Erdogan said the interior ministry "is ready to implement the measure at any time." But he gave no further details, notably about how many would gain Turkish nationality.
According to Turkish government figures, the country is hosting more than three million Syrians and Iraqis who have fled war.
Erdogan outlined a naturalisation plan last summer but the idea met with angry protests and xenophobic comments on social media.
The country's political opposition saw the plan as a scheme to widen Erdogan's electoral basis at a time when he is pushing for constitutional reform that will strengthen his powers.