The President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan admits that the government’s initial response to the earthquake was inadequate
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey, has defended his government’s actions in the wake of two devastating earthquakes, saying that it was impossible to prepare for a disaster of this magnitude.
Turkey and northern Syria have reported at least 15,000 deaths.
Government and emergency services were accused of being unprepared and responding too slowly to crises.
Mr. Erdogan admitted the government had run into some difficulties but claimed things were “under control” now.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of Turkey’s main opposition party, disagreed.
He blamed Erdogan, saying, “If there’s one person responsible for this, it’s Erdogan.”
The president denied the charge and emphasised the need for solidarity following the tragedy. He told reporters in Hatay, “In a period like this, I cannot stomach people conducting negative campaigns for political interest.”
War has ravaged the nearby country of Syria for years, making it difficult to restore the country’s infrastructure in time for relief efforts.
Roads were badly damaged during the earthquake, so the Bab al-Hawa crossing between Turkey and Syria has been closed ever since.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed the country was working to open two more border gates to help get aid into the country after a senior UN official said the road may soon be accessible.
“Difficulties exist in terms of [Syria aid] from Turkey and the international community. That’s why people are working to throw open two more border checkpoints “His words.
The European Union (EU) has said it will send Syria €3.5m (£3.1m) in aid in response to a request from the Syrian government, but that the money must be distributed to both government and rebel-controlled areas.
An adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has claimed that sanctions are preventing the country from receiving much-needed aid despite the fact that more than 1,500 people have died in Idlib province alone.
European and American sanctions have left the country lacking in “bulldozers, not having enough cranes, and not having enough oil,” as Bouthaina Shabban put it.