Syrian refugees should return since the conflict in Syria is “almost finished,” Turkish main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told a journalists association in the southeast Turkish city of Gaziantep on Wednesday.
“We have naturally opened our arms to the Syrians who fled the civil war and sought refuge in our country,” said Kılıçdaroğlu. “But the country has not been a warzone for a long time, its almost over. Our Syrian brothers now need to return to their own country.”
Turkey is host to a reported 3.8 million Syrian refugees, having implemented an open doors policy at the beginning of the conflict.
With a survey by Bilgi University showing overwhelming support for sending Syrian refugees back home once the war is over, Kılıçdaroğlu’s statement is unlikely to cause much controversy in Turkey.
In fact, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also discussed sending the refugees back , saying in February that areas controlled by Turkey in northern Syria, including the northwest Syrian enclave of Afrin, captured from Kurdish forces in March, could be a destination for returning Syrians.
Kılıçdaroğlu, meanwhile, has promised as part of his party’s election declaration for the upcoming Jun. 24 elections to establish an organisation with Turkey’s neighbours in Syria, Iran and Iraq to peacefully resolve the region’s simmering conflicts.
This, as well as the CHP leader’s assertion that the Syrian civil war has cooled down, will be viewed as wishful thinking by many, as the prospect of peace in Syria appears no closer after the breakdown of another round of United Nations-backed peace talks last December.
Since then, a chemical weapons attack on civilians and opposition fighters in Douma provoked joint missile strikes by the United States, France and the UK; Israel and Iran have continued to battle out their rivalry on Syrian territory; and thousands of Syrian civilians have been forcibly displaced as Bashar al-Assad’s regime captured rebel-held territory.