The more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, who constitute a major realm of social problems for the country, have become a topic of election campaigns ahead of the June 24 presidential and parliamentary polls. Opposition leaders call for the Syrians to go home as soon as the conditions in Syria allow, while the government maintains its welcoming attitude and even advocates Turkish citizenship for the refugees.
In a TV interview last month, Muharrem Ince, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), slammed a government decision to allow more than 70,000 Syrians to go home for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr and then return to Turkey, arguing that holiday trips to Syria meant the refugees could go home for good. “If you are able to go there, stay 10 days and return, then you could stay there permanently. Why are you coming back? … Is this [country] a soup kitchen? My country is full of jobless people,” he said.