Erdogan: Syrian conflict “is about to wipe the country off the map”

Turkish President announces plan to grant citizenship to Syrian refugees ahead of NATO Warsaw Summit; Erdogan calls on NATO to be “more active” and “update itself against the new security threats”; NATO’s announces “tailored assurance measures for Turkey to respond to the growing security challenges from the south”


Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced plans by Turkey’s Interior Ministry to grant citizenship to Syrian refugees, calling on the international community, specifically NATO to “be more active and update itself in the face of… new threats,” referring to ISIS and global terrorism, warning that Assad’s regime could wipe the country [Syria] of the map.”

Erdogan did not give a timeline or specifics as to how many Syrian refugees would be granted citizenship, but warned of the collapse of Syria, Turkish media quoting Erdogan having stated “Syria’s ongoing 6 year-old conflict has left over 600,000 people dead and is about to wipe the country off the map despite being a historically deep-rooted country… Turkey cannot accept such a thing to happen.”

The Turkish President stated that providing Syrian refugees with citizenship would “serve Turkeys’ interests and improve their [Syrian refugees] living standards… Western nations open their doors to such skilled individuals and they have no choice but to go to the West when we do not open the gates ourselves. We would like to benefit from their knowledge.”

He also addressed global terrorism, stating “As we have seen from the terrorist attacks first in Istanbul and then in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, international security is becoming more fragile. The concept of a security threat is undergoing a serious change. In this process, NATO needs to be more active and has to update itself against the new security threats.”

Erdogan made these statements ahead of the Warsaw Summit over the weekend, where the North Atlantic Council, the political decision-makers of NATO, announced “tailored assurance measures for Turkey to respond to the growing security challenges from the south” through the Readiness Action Plan (RAP).

The RAP was proposed during NATO’s Wales Summit in 2014 and later approved, the NATO’s Readiness Action Plan established “to respond swiftly to the fundamental changes in the security environment on NATO’s borders and further afield that are of concern to Allies.  It responds to the challenges posed by Russia and their strategic implications.  It also responds to the risks and threats emanating from our southern neighborhood, the Middle East and North Africa.”

The RAP includes “assurance measures” which are “increased military presence and activity for assurance and deterrence in the eastern part of the Alliance”, as well as “adaptation measures”- changes to long-term military posture and capabilities to enable it to respond more quickly to emergencies wherever they arise”.

NATO released a summary of the Summit issued by heads of state and government on Saturday, announcing “tailored assurance measures for Turkey to respond to the growing security challenges from the south contribute to the security of the Alliance as a whole, and will be fully implemented.  Assurance Measures are flexible and scalable in response to the evolving security situation, and will be kept under annual review by the Council.”

Turkey hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees, an estimated 2.7- 3 million and has provided over $11 billion in humanitarian aid.