Analyst Omar Kadkoy discusses the position on Syrian refugees maintained by the two Turkish candidates facing off in the run-off for Turkish presidential elections on Sunday.
Concerning the repatriation of many of the four million Syrians currently residing in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who will face him on Sunday in the run-off, appear to "want to reach the same point".
That's according to Omar Kadkoy, a Syrian analyst for the Ankara-based think tank 'Tepav'.
"Both want to send Syrians back home," Kadkoy told ANSA. "Kilicdaroglu may well have a more populist rhetoric but the essence of his message is the same."
A change of pace for the Turkish President on Syrian refugees
Over the course of the election campaign, Kilicdaroglu has promised that, if elected, he "will repatriate all migrants", while Erdogan has only mentioned the need to "encourage" one million Syrians to go back home.
Kilicdaroglu's speech did not surprise anyone -- the candidate has long subscribed to a nationalist politics that views migrants unfavorably.
Erdogan's recent declarations, however, reveal a change of pace compared to the past.
"In 2011, he appeared as the protector of those fleeing the brutality of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In the eyes of millions of Syrians, he was the guardian angel that welcomed them," Kadkoy said, recalling that past opposition parties had already proposed negotiations with Assad to repatriate the refugees.
In recent times, even Erdogan has expressed interest in these sorts of talks.
According to the analyst, the Turkish president's U-turn occurred when he realized he did not have Russia's support in the new military operation against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
"He realized that in the end, he had to realign his position of guardian angel for Syrians," Kadkoy said.
Reconciliation between Erdogan and Assad has begun, but will be difficult
Reconciliation with Assad, with whom Erdogan interrupted relations in 2011, has been launched, but the road ahead won't be easy.
"Both Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu would face a very stubborn counterpart in Damascus," says Kadkoy.
Assad has clarified that withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Syria, where they have supported armed groups opposing the Syrian president for years, is the precondition for reconciliation with Ankara, Kadkoy added.
"Before Turkey can reach an agreement with Damascus concerning the future of northeast Syria, I don't think Ankara will be able to comply with Assad's request, and should this happen, there will be a stalemate."