Turkey’s bold new plan for Syrian refugees: Make them citizens

Until now, Syrians have been accommodated through a scheme of “guest” permits to reside in Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of refugees in Turkey, frustrated by their status and the limited opportunities available to them, have chosen to make the risky passage to Europe, often by boat.

According to the Financial Times, the Turkish government is keen to retain some of the more skilled and highly educated Syrians in their midst, many of whom are better equipped to make the journey to Europe than their compatriots. On a broader level, Ankara simply has had to accept the reality that hundreds of thousands of Syrians are building new lives within Turkey, and that a system should be in place to better integrate them.

“We got a sense that we were getting very low-quality immigration — poor, uneducated families, or in the best case, businessmen who had some money to set up a shop or factory here,” said a Turkish official, quoted anonymously by the British newspaper. “That’s why you were seeing these ghettos in cities around Turkey, with huge numbers of Syrians who were unemployed and underutilized.”