Syrians not in Turkey to stay, says AKP’s Yıldırım

Turkey’s Syrian refugee population is not in Turkey permanently and any Syrian who violates Turkish law will be kicked out of the country, parliament speaker and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) İstanbul mayoral candidate Binali Yıldırım said on Tuesday.

Speaking on Turkey’s some 3.5 million Syrian refugee population, Yıldırım told members of the press that Ankara aims to bring peace through its military presence in neighbouring Syria and has no intention of occupying it, Islamist Milli Gazete reported.

"We attach importance to the territorial integrity of Syria. 295,00 Syrians have already returned home. İstanbul residents should know that Syrian’s are not here to stay. And we will not allow for them to engage in illegal activities while here. Zero tolerance. We’ll grab them by the ear and throw them out," Yıldırım said while speaking to members of the press on Syrians living in İstanbul.

Istanbul ranks first in the list of cities hosting refugees, with 517,000 Syrians currently living there.

Approximately 52 percent of Syrian refugees want to stay in Turkey, with 74 percent seeking Turkish citizenship, according to a 2017 survey. 

Despite a 2016 promise by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that Syrian refugees living in Turkey could eventually be granted citizenship, only 60,000 Syrians have been granted citizenship in the last six years.