ASIA/TURKEY - A "Turkish plan" for Syriac Christians?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Ankara (Agenzia Fides) - The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey may offer Turkish citizenship to all Syriacs of the Christian community who are or have been related to former citizens of Turkey and who are now in a difficult situation in war-torn Syria. The hypothesis of a "Turkish plan" for Syrian Christians was outlined recently by Evgil Türker, head of the Federation of Syriac Associations in Turkey, during of a conference on relations between Turkey and Syriac Christians of Syrian nationality.
According to the scenario envisioned by Türker – re-launched by many Turkish media and partially shared by other participants at the meeting - Turkey could recur as a new "homeland" for the many Syriac Christians now living in Syria and Europe, whose ancestors lived in Turkey.
In recent times the signals of attention of the leadership of Turkish policy towards the Syriac Christian minority seem to multiply. The same Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on Syriac Turkish emigrants to return to Turkey. While President Abdullah Gül met with the leaders of the Syriac Christian community in Turkey in February. For the first time in history, the same Gül was accompanied by a high representative of the Syriac Orthodox Church - Metropolitan Yusuf Çetin - in a recent visit to Sweden, where a vibrant community of the Syriac Orthodox diaspora live. The same Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has repeatedly reaffirmed his readiness to help the Syriac Christians affected by the civil war in Syria. Of these, at least 500 have already found refuge in Turkey. The Turkish authorities have put in place in Mydiat (for centuries the center of Syriac Christian enclave in the province of Mardin) a refugee camp for Syriac Christians, able to accommodate 4 thousand refugees.
The flow of Syriac Christians towards Turkey could also increase if the area around Hassaké, in the upper Syrian Mesoptamia - where most of the tens of thousands of Syrian Christians are concentrated - were involved more heavily by the conflict between loyalist troops and anti-Assad militias.
The Metropolitan of Aleppo Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, who was kidnapped by unknown kidnappers over two weeks ago, along with the Greek-Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo Boulos al-Yazigi, belongs to the Syriac Orthodox Church.
According to the most reliable geo-political analysis, in any future split up of the current Syria the northern part of the Country would be fatally destined to fall within the sphere of Turkish influence. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 08/05/2013).