The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has initiated new regulations regarding Syrian refugees living within Turkey's borders to pave the way for their social integration. As part of the changes that the AK Party intends to make in the upcoming period, instructions were given to local municipalities to open offices for the purpose of guiding Syrians and helping them understand the labor and social system in Turkey.
In the party's Central Executive Committee (MYK) meeting held after the March 31 local elections, the AK Party administration started to signal changes and launched workshops for local municipalities, giving them instructions and training as part of the renewal process. The meeting indicated that new administrators would listen to citizens and their suggestions and problems. During the evaluation of the elections, some lawmakers indicated citizens were not content with the situation of Syrians and that new policies are needed. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan answered, "We had to open our doors for the Syrian refugees. However, we will take new steps in this regard. We will encourage their return."
"We cannot let people think that all of them are bad. Some of them founded companies and contributed significantly to the national economy," said AK Party Deputy Chairman Leyla Şahin Usta. The party has decided upon new strategies for Syrians who sought refuge in Turkey running away from the eight-year-long war that has caused the death and displacement of countless people. AK Party municipalities will teach Syrians Turkish traditions and customs, how to open new workplaces and where to apply to work in more proper circumstances.
Moreover, Syrians will be directed to attend obligatory Turkish language courses. The AK Party's women's branch will help Syrians get to know their neighbors and establish good relations with them. Considering the rise of the far-right, hate crimes, xenophobia and racism in the West, the AK Party said that preventing such phenomena in Turkey is the reason for the party to take new initiatives and adapt refugees into daily life in Turkey.
According to Interior Ministry figures, the number of refugees was 4.2 million in 2017 and has now reached 4.9 million. While 3.6 million Syrians are living in Turkey, more than 415,000 Syrians have been born in Turkey since the start of the civil war in 2011.