Syrian refugees could become citizens in Turkey, says Erdogan

Syrian refugees could become citizens in Turkey, says Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday announced that millions of Syrian refugees in the country will have a chance to obtain Turkish citizenship.
2 min read
02 July, 2016
Erdogan said the Interior Ministry is taking steps to grant Syrian refugees citizenship [AFP]

Syrians refugees living in Turkey will have a chance to become Turkish citizens, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday. 

Speaking in the southern border province of Kilis, which hosts more than 120,000 Syrians refugees, Erdogan said that many of the Syrians now in Turkey want to become citizens.

"There are steps our Interior Ministry has taken on the issue," he said. 

"We will give the chance to [acquire] citizenship by helping out these brothers and sisters by monitoring through offices set up by the ministry," Erdogan said.

Turkey hosts over 2 million Syrian refugees and was one of the few countries to allow Syrians to enter without a visa.

Refugees have also used the country as a launch pad to Europe through Greece.

Turkey in March signed a deal with the EU that aims to stem the flow of refugees and migrants to Europe.

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Under the deal, Turkey agreed to take back all migrants and refugees landing in the Greek islands, and to crack down on people smuggling over the Aegean Sea.

In exchange, the EU said it would resettle one Syrian refugee from camps in Turkey for every Syrian that Ankara takes back from Greece.

Turkey was also offered visa-free access, increased aid and speeded up EU accession talks if it met certain conditions including changes to Ankara's anti-terrorism laws.

However, rights groups have slammed the EU-Turkish deal, with Amnesty International describing as "illegal" and "reckless"

The conflict in Syria, which has lasted five years, has killed more than 280,000 people and displaced millions.