Ankara devising plan for return of Syrian refugees to their country
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promises to plan the return of 1 million Syrian refugees as the May 28 runoff elections loom.
Turkey is preparing to send back Syrian refugees to their country in batches, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"A road map for the return of refugees will be planned soon. It will be analyzed how soon their return can be ensured," Erdogan told TRT Haber in an interview.
Turkey has already repatriated 450,000 Syrian refugees as Erdogan reveals plans to return another 1 million.
"We have a plan to return another 1 million refugees there," Erdogan revealed.
The topic of Syrian refugees has been highly debated within Turkish politics, and its importance was highlighted in this year's presidential election campaigns, especially that of opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaruglo who said that if he emerges victorious, he intends to "say goodbye" to the refugees within two years.
Kilicdaroglu suggested the proposal to normalize Ankara’s diplomatic relations with the Syrian government. That entails a joint agreement with Syria to ensure the return of Syrian refugees and the joint rebuilding efforts of Syria via Turkish companies with UN and EU funding.
On the other hand, Erdogan's government has mobilized on diplomatic levels to expand relations with Syria under Russian- and Iranian-mediated talks.
In January, data showed that there are around 3.5 million Syrians in Turkey, according to the Turkish migration agency.
President Erdogan was unable to secure a first-round victory against his political rivals in the 2023 presidential elections after falling slightly short on May 14. The current President needed less than half of a percent of the votes to extend his presidential run, while his rival and opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu collected 44.8% of the total votes in the first round.
The second round of elections is scheduled to take place on May 28 with both leading candidates confident of securing the votes necessary to becomes president.