The rules of belonging: Turkey

In our fifth and final blog assignment of the semester, students are asked to write either an Opinion piece on a recent news story from their country or write up a descriptive summary of the citizenship law in their country.

I’ve written quite a few opinion pieces before (this post on a Huffington Post piece on the supposed “death” of austerity economics or this one on whether China can save the euro), so in this sample post, I will focus on a write-up of Turkey’s citizenship law.

Every so often, the US policy of “birthright” citizenship (anyone born in the US is granted automatic citizenship) becomes a hot-button issue. Critics argue that no other industrialized country has such an open policy, which has some truth.  Even other jus soli (“right of soil”) citizenship countries like the UK and France have restricted their laws in recent years, but these countries are much closer to the US policy than some more restrictive countries such as Austria, Italy, or Turkey.

Turkey’s citizenship law operates on the principles of jus sanguinis (“right of blood”), by which the only children to receive citizenship at birth are those with a Turkish parent (either by birth or adoption). In accordance with international conventions, the law does make an allowance for stateless children (those born without citizenship) where they also receive automatic citizenship at birth.

For those not born a citizen, they have to undergo Turkey’s naturalization process.  They must demonstrate that they shall:

“a) be of the age of consent possessing the distinguishing power according to his/her own national legal system, or according to the Turkish law if s/he is stateless;
b) have been resident in Turkey for five years, without interruption, prior to her/his date of application;
c) have the intention of settling in Turkey and prove this intention with action;
ç) not have any disease that constitutes a danger to public health;
d) be a person of good morals;
e) speak an adequate level of Turkish;
f) have an income or profession to provide for his own livelihood and those of his/her dependants in Turkey;
g) not pose a threat to national security and public order.”

(Exert from Article 11 of Turkey’s 2009 Citizenship Law)

Marriage speeds up this process a bit; people who marry a Turkish citizen can apply for citizenship after 3 years.

Reflecting Turkey’s jus sanguinis tradition, when we combine these policies, it is MUCH easier for someone of Turkish blood to receive citizenship than someone without kinship ties.  In fact, the 2009 law had a special section where they offer citizenship to anyone from Turkic Cyprus if they submit this request in writing.

To read the 2009 Law in English, check out this website from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees:


Steven A. Camarota. 17 August 2010. The G.O.P. and Birthright Citizenship.  The New York Times, retrieved from

Bulent Cicekli. 2011.  Turkish Citizenship Policy Since 1980. Retrieved from The Journal of Turkish Weekly at

Assignment 5: Open Topic or Citizenship Laws

Students can choose either to write an analysis blog on a recent news story from their country (basically, an Opinion or Op-Ed piece) or they can write an information blog about the citizenship policy in their country.

If you choose the open topic…Select one recent news story about your country. In your blog, briefly summarize your news story, discuss why it’s important, then explain what you think should be done about this (and why). If possible, somewhere in your blog try to link this story to one of the topics we covered in class.

If you choose to write on citizenship…Give an overview of what it takes to be a citizen of your country. Is citizenship determined more through blood ties or to ties to some general “civic” or “republican” values?

Info to include: Divide your description into “automatic citizenship” and “naturalization.”

  • Automatic citizenship: Is any child who is born in your country automatically given citizenship (like the US)? If not, what is required for a child to receive citizenship at birth?
  • Naturalization: For those who are not natural-born citizens, what process do they have to go through to become a citizen? Describe the rules for those who are married to a current citizen and those who are not (marriage tends to speed up the naturalization process…). How many years to they have to be permanent resident of that country?

Beyond residency, does your country require additional application materials? Is there a cultural test? Are there any income or employment requirements?  At the bottom of your blog, include a link to an official website that describes the citizenship law in that country, even if that webpage is not in English.

Final Blog Writing Tip: Don’t feel you need to put everything into proper paragraph formatting.  If done correctly, bullet points can be a useful way to arrange information in a blog.


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