Big investors in Turkey to be allowed citizenship

Istanbul (AFP) - Turkey will grant citizenship to those who invest or buy valuable property in the country, the Official Gazette said Thursday, as it tries to boost its flagging economy.

Passports will be granted to foreigners who buy at least $1 million of real estate in Turkey, invest at least $2 million, or deposit at least $3 million in an account, the Official Gazette said.

The announcement comes as the country battles a serious slide in the lira, with analysts saying the currency is taking a pounding because of a toxic combination of political and security uncertainty and economic woes.

In a similar move, last week Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said skilled Syrian and Iraqi refugees currently working on the black market would be granted citizenship if they pass security tests.

The European Union has called on Turkey to make it easier in general for Syrian refugees to find work, which would in theory make them less likely to come to Europe.

It is a key demand in negotiations over Ankara's decade-long accession process to join the EU, as the bloc tackles the worst migration crisis since the Second World War.

At the end of 2015 Brussels and Ankara struck a deal whereby EU leaders pledged three billion euros ($3.2 billion) in aid for Syrian refugees on Turkish soil, while Turkey said it would stem the flow of migrants to Europe.

The bloc also agreed to end the visa requirement for Turkish visitors to the EU's passport-free Schengen zone.

But in May a European Commission report acknowledged concerns criminals were plotting to get their hands on Turkish passports to get into the Schengen zone and carry out attacks.

Turkey, a Muslim-majority NATO member, has demanded the EU come through on its visa-free promise, but progress has stalled, with the EU accusing Turkey of breaching human rights with its anti-terror laws.