Deputy PM: Naturalization of refugees considered 'contribution to economy'

ELIF PETEK SAMATYALI
ANKARA
Published 14.07.2016 00:00

Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli on Tuesday said that surveys are constantly conducted and their results indicate high support from Turkish citizens.

Answering questions from journalists in Parliament, Canikli said he saw the latest survey before Ramadan Bayram this month, adding: "There does not seem to be a problem concerning the naturalization of the Syrian [refugees in Turkey]."

He said that there is certain segment in society opposed to naturalizing the Syrian refugees, but added: "Their number is not that high. The percentage is not so great as to affect our decisions."

Canikli further clarified the current debates concerning the accommodation of Syrians by the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ), saying that empty houses may be provided to Syrians for free in accordance with housing policies. "The government will locate them in those areas and the process will continue within the frame of housing policies as it has been going on with previous practices. Also, there is the condition of a necessary payment being made, which applies to everyone," he added.Emphasizing that the procedure concerning the naturalization of Syrian refugees has not reached the level of being discussed by the Cabinet, he said: "The procedure is being worked through. The numbers are not certain yet. The case is considered as a contribution to the economy. The employment of a qualified workforce and areas of employment that are not preferred by Turks will be prioritized within the process. For instance, we have a need for more doctors, which we are planning to fulfill."

Turkey is in the process of giving citizenship to Syrian refugees who have never been involved in terrorist activities and who are seen as "useful" to the country, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said on Monday. He also said the Interior Ministry is still working on the issue of granting citizenship to Syrians who "can be of use to Turkey, who have never been involved in terrorism and who can create a bridge between Turkey and Syria." President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said earlier this month that millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey would have the chance to become citizens of the country that has given them shelter. Around 3 million Syrians who fled the civil war in their country live in Turkey.

Syria has remained locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Syrian regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. Since then, more than 500,000 people have been killed and more than 10 million have been displaced, according to U.N. figures.

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