May 08 2018

Some 2,000 Turkish Jews apply for Portuguese citizenship

More than 2,000 Sephardic Jews from Turkey have applied for Portuguese citizenship in the last two years, German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle quoted Portuguese Ambassador to Turkey Paula Leal da Silva as saying.

While Turkish Jews had sent the most applications, the ambassador added, 12,000 Jews worldwide had applied to benefit from a programme for Sephardic Jews to gain Portuguese citizenship by way of apology for the oppression that had forced their ancestors to leave the country around 500 years ago.

He estimated there were a total of 17,000 Sephardic Jews presently living in Turkey, the result of the Ottoman Empire giving asylum opening to those expelled from Spain and Portugal at the end of the fifteenth century. Many of their descendents later left Turkey for Israel.

Applying for Portuguese citizenship may not indicate a desire to move to Portugal, however. Some will have applied hoping to reap the benefits of easier travel around Europe or as an insurance policy against future negative political developments.