The magnitude 6.8 earthquake that hit Turkey's Elazığ and Malatya provinces Friday evening saddened us all. Due to the grief caused by the quake, we could not properly evaluate German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Istanbul the same day and the very important statements she made to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. For good reason, our priority was the earthquake and the rescue of survivors trapped under the rubble.
Thanks to the quick deployment of emergency and rescue teams in the areas hit by the quake, many people were taken out alive from under the rubble. Unfortunately, up to this point, we have lost 41 citizens, 39 of them due to the quake and two of them due to heart attacks, while 1,607 were injured. Thank God, most of the injured were eventually discharged from the hospital. Only 68 citizens are still in the hospital, 18 of whom are in the intensive care unit. I must point out that nearly 1,000 aftershocks occurred following the quake.
People living in the quake-hit areas in Elazığ and Malatya took shelter in schools, mosques and tents since they were unable to return to damaged buildings. New houses will be built for them rapidly.
Many countries from around the world have extended their condolences and offered Turkey help. But we have only thanked them. Thank God, our country is quite experienced in these matters and has all the means available. Erdoğan visited the quake zone on Saturday.
On Sunday, the president was in Algeria. While healing the wounds of the quake on the one hand, Turkey continues its diplomatic initiatives for stopping the bloodshed in Libya at the same time.
The most important development in this regard, however, was Merkel's visit to Istanbul on Friday, five days after the Berlin conference on Libya. Germany, which brought together countries and international organizations in Berlin to help bring the ongoing civil war in Libya to an end, knows well what a crucial role Turkey is playing in this issue. Turkey's success in persuading Russia, thanks in large part to its cooperation with Russia in Syria, is of vital importance for both the Berlin conference and its aftermath.
Chancellor Merkel is aware of the importance of cooperation with Turkey as she knows that a solution is impossible without Turkey in Libya and Syria. At the moment, Merkel is the only European leader with true appreciation of the need for Turkey in ensuring a permanent cease-fire and restoring stability in Libya in the long run, as well as ending the civil war in Syria.
Turkey and Germany hold similar views on many issues.
Both believe that the war in Libya will not produce a solution and that Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan warlord, is a disaster for Libya. For this reason, they support Libya's legitimate government recognized by the United Nations. They want democracy, not dictatorship, for the Libyans. They view warlord Haftar's refusal to abide by the results of the Berlin conference and his attempts to undermine the goals put forward at the conference as a great obstacle to achieving peace in Libya. Both countries are determined to work toward putting into practice the decisions made at the Berlin conference.
They are also determined to end the civil war in Syria and ensure democratic rule in the country within its existing boundaries. Their particular priority at the moment is to stop the Syrian regime's attacks on Idlib.
The two countries want to establish sound cooperation regarding refugees. Merkel duly appreciates what Turkey has done for the refugees until now. She is aware that the European Union has failed to honor its promises to Turkey. For this reason, she thinks positively of Germany lending financial assistance on its own, independently of the EU, if necessary. Particularly, Merkel does not want Germany to stand aside while Turkey is building houses for the refugees who return or will return to the areas liberated and made safe by Turkey through its fight against terrorism. It's quite a logical solution for Merkel to create opportunities in these safe zones so as to prevent the occurrence of a refugee crisis similar to the one in 2015.
Germany's approaching EU term presidency which begins in July is of particular importance in these three matters. Merkel will be in a more active position in her capacity as the EU term president along with being Germany's chancellor. In this regard, strong cooperation with Turkey is also important for the success of Germany's efforts relating to these issues during its EU term presidency.
But Turkey has rightful expectations regarding this issue. Turkey has been waiting for constructive steps in regard to the update of the customs union agreement, visa exemption and many other issues with the EU. In addition to these, it is of critical importance to Turkey that the EU refuses to bow to the blackmail of the Greek Cypriots and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean, and adopts a stance against these two entities which are endangering the peace by relying on their EU membership.
We hope that Merkel, who is expected to remain as chancellor until the planned elections in the fall of 2021 for the German Federal Parliament, will be successful in all these issues.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.