Turkey will grant around 50,000 Syrians citizenship, the country’s interior ministry official said on Friday.
Speaking in Turkey’s southern province of Sanliurfa, Interior Ministry General Directorate of Population and Citizenship Affairs manager, Sinan Guner, told Anadolu Agency the process of granting citizenship had already begun.
“The citizenship process of a total of 35,000 Syrians has finished now,” Guner said. He said a further 15,000 applications were being reviewed, mostly children.
According to Interior Ministry figures, over 12,000 other Syrians have been given Turkish citizenship so far.
Ministry figures also show Turkey hosts around three million Syrian refugees.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled to neighboring countries and to some European states since civil war in Syria erupted in March 2011.
Guner said the Syrians who would be granted citizenship had been selected according to certain criteria, particularly those with skills who could contribute to Turkey.
Turkey is also in the process of granting citizenship to 20,000 Ahiska, also known as Meskhetian Turks, Guner said.
Ahiska Turks originally came from the Meskheti region of Georgia but were expelled from their homeland by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1944.
Around 22,000 Ahiska Turks live in Ahlat (a district in Turkey’s eastern Bitlis province), according to Guner.
Reporting by Mehmet Fatih Aslan; Writing by Nilay Kar