Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya has announced that the number of Syrians who have been granted Turkish citizenship has reached close to 238,000 despite rising anti-refugee sentiment in the country, Turkish Minute reported.
The minister made the statement at parliament’s Planning and Budget Committee, saying the number of naturalized Syrians as of beginning of November was 237,995, while the number of Syrians who have reached the age of 18 was 156,987.
The minister said there are 3,254,904 Syrians under temporary protection in the country, with 1,129,614 of them having received residence permits and 259,468 under international protection.
The number of naturalized Syrians has been a matter of controversy for years.
Prior to the general election in May, opposition parties, which criticize President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) due to their open door policy toward refugees, accused them of facilitating the naturalization of refugees so that they can vote for the AKP in elections.
Turkey is one of the countries where foreigners can acquire citizenship by means of investment in real estate. Members of a foreign family were until recently granted Turkish citizenship if they bought a property valued at $250,000.
However, Turkey announced changes to a regulation last year on the requirements for the acquisition of Turkish citizenship through investment that requires foreigners to pay at least $400,000 for a piece of property, instead of $250,000, to be eligible for citizenship on the condition of holding the property for three years.
Turkey has welcomed nearly 5 million refugees in total, including Syrians and Afghans, but their presence has caused tensions with locals, especially as the country is in economic turmoil with a weak lira and soaring energy and food prices.