With the repatriation of refugees to Syria one of the issues dominating elections in Turkey, the country’s foreign minister has said not all Syrians can be sent back to their homeland because they are needed in the Turkish labor market.
“If we say we will send all Syrians back, this would not be accurate. Their labor is needed in some areas. My father has sheep, and he complains about not being able to find a shepherd,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in televised remarks on Sunday
The debate about the repatriating of Syrian refugees has heated up after the presidential election held on May 14 as Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the main opposition leader and presidential candidate, stepped up his rhetoric and called for the urgent expulsion of Syrian refugees in the country.
Kılıçdaroğlu is seeking to defeat his rival, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in the runoff election to be held on Sunday since neither of them managed to exceed the 50 percent threshold in the presidential election held on May 14.
Turkey hosts nearly 3.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled civil war and were registered under temporary protection as of April 2023, according to official figures.
Refugees in Turkey are frequently targeted by Turkish politicians, who hold them responsible for the social and economic problems in the country.
Çavuşoğlu said Syrians are needed in Turkey’s agricultural and industrial sectors as well as in wholesale food and produce markets.
Some people said on Twitter that Çavuşoğlu’s remarks were an admission of the fact that the government sees Syrian people as source of cheap labor.