Turkey's Disaster Management Agency AFAD was admitted into the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism, which was established in 2001 to promote cooperation among national civil protection authorities across the continent. AFAD Chief Dr. Fuat Oktay and Christos Stylianides, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, signed a new agreement to admit Turkey into the EU Civil Protection Mechanism at the European Civil Protection Forum 2015 held in the Belgian capital of Brussels on Wednesday.
Dr. Oktay and EU Commissioner Stylanides signed the membership treaty making Turkey the 34th country to join the group. Having been admitted into the prestigious disaster response mechanism, the Turkish government will contribute to future operations. The membership will also allow Turkey to access the Common Emergency Communication and Information System (CECIS) in addition to receiving updates from the mechanism's early warning systems.
"[Turkey] knows about national disasters therefore [its] experience and expertise will be valuable," Christos Stylianides, the EU's humanitarian aid commissioner, said at the Brussels ceremony.
"The most important aspect about Turkey joining the mechanisms is the opportunity to establish a systematic and trusted relationship."
AFAD President Fuat Oktay added: "Let me emphasize that Turkey intends to actively contribute to the mechanism both at policy-shaping and decision-making levels."
As well as coordinating a European response to disasters, the EU scheme, established in 2001, promotes best practice and training.
Turkey is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries and has a wealth of expertise in dealing with natural disasters. Around 200 emergency staff are currently assisting rescue and relief efforts in Nepal.
The AFAD chief will also participate at a special session on the role of innovation in disaster risk management during the two-day event.
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