In early July, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a plan to grant Turkish citizenship to Syrian refugees, saying he had instructed the government to start working on the issue. Several days later on a flight from the NATO summit in Warsaw, he told journalists that Syrians in Turkey, numbering some 3 million, could be offered lodgings built by the Housing Development Administration through a favorable payment scheme of small monthly installments. The plan to naturalize Syrians and lodge them in government-built homes sparked objections from the opposition and civil society groups, with many suspecting that Erdogan had ulterior political motives.
Around the same time, the government had announced another controversial plan — to grant work and residency permits and Turkish citizenship to foreigners who buy real estate in Turkey and pledge not to sell it for five years, who buy treasury bonds and pledge to keep them for at least five years and who keep foreign exchange above a certain amount in bank accounts for at least three years. The plan, an attempt to lure foreign capital, sparked accusations that Turkish citizenship had been “put on sale.”