Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.jpg
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Photograph: EPA/SEDAT SUNA

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered Turkish citizenship to millions of Syrian refugees living in the country, in remarks carried by the state-run news agency Anadolu.

Syrians who foster the wish to become Turkish citizens should be granted it, Erdogan told a group of refugees in the border city of Kilis during the traditional breaking of the Ramadan fast on Saturday evening.

He said that the Turkish Interior Ministry had introduced steps to facilitate the move, but he did not elaborate on what those steps were.

Critics have speculated for some time that the ruling conservative Islamic AKP party had been planning to grant Turkish citizenship to the Syrian refugees, and with it the right to vote in elections.

The UN's refugee agency, UNHCR, says Turkey is host to some 2.7 million Syrians who have fled the five-year conflict in their neighbouring homeland.

Many Syrians are grateful to Erdogan and the AKP for giving them asylum and could express this gratitude at the ballot box.

In Kilis, Syrian refugees now outnumber the local population.

"To my brothers and sisters coming from Syria, I say: We see you as brothers and sisters; if you also see us as your brothers and sisters, you are not far from your home, you are just far away from your houses and your country. Turkey is your home," Erdogan said.

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