Syrian Refugees Slam Erdogan Over Citizenship Plan

"First give us visas," dozens of Syrians posted on Facebook

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech in Akara, June 27. — REUTERS
Jul 03, 2016 at 10:07 AM ET

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a plan on Saturday that could create divisions at home and have implications well beyond its borders: The country is preparing to offer Syrian refugees citizenship.

But some Syrian refugees don’t believe him. “This guy lies more than he eats,” a Facebook user who said she’s from Aleppo wrote in one of the largest Facebook groups for refugees on the social media platform. She was one among hundreds of users who expressed pessimism—and skepticism—about the development in groups across Facebook. “First give us visas,” dozens of Syrians posted.

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The comments were in direct response to reports that Erdogan announced Syrians will have the opportunity to become Turkish citizens. “There are steps our Interior Ministry has taken on the issue,” he said on Saturday in the Turkish province of Kilis, according to the Anadolu news agency. “We will give the chance to [acquire] citizenship by helping out these brothers and sisters by monitoring through offices set up by the ministry.”

The UN Refugee Agency says more than 2.7 million Syrian refugees have registered with the agency in Turkey since the start of Syria’s conflict in 2011. Many Syrians have passed through the country on a journey to Western Europe.

While Turkey allows Syrians to enter the country by land without visas, a policy change in January prevented Syrian refugees from arriving by sea or air without them. That meant those looking to go from Lebanon and Egypt to Turkey, for example, could not longer make the trip without visas.

Translation: “Liar!!!”

Translation: “First give us visas to see our families, then you can start talking about citizenship”