Gov’t will not allow construction in burned forests: Erdoğan
The government will not allow the construction of buildings in burned forest areas, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, vowing to focus on the planting of burned areas after current wildfires are defeated.
They will never allow concrete building in these areas, Erdoğan said, recalling his remark on the objection of tall constructions while speaking in a live television interview on Aug. 4.
His government planted 5,400,000 trees in the past 19 years, and they will focus on replanting the burned forests as work is underway to implement a road map for these areas, he added.
“After we get rid of this scourge, we will take steps on it. We will do our work and then take the steps,” Erdoğan stated, reminding that new plantations would need time after fires.
Elaborating on the allegation of arson, the president said they were concerned about it since the beginning of the fires and even found some traces, which caused the detention of some suspects.
“We identified that the families of some arrested were affiliated with the PKK,” he added.
Erdoğan addressed the municipalities for the responsibility of firefighting.
The whole world is currently facing this challenge, Erdoğan said and criticized the opposition parties’ attitude for wildfires in Turkey while identifying it as “terror of opposition.”
“We have a misfortune, unfortunately, Turkish politics is a politics without opposition. The terror of the opposition is blowing in Turkey. It is impossible to set this aside. So many places burn in America and Canada, nothing like this happens there,” he said, noting that the opposition parties in these countries stand by the government in disaster periods.
Responding to suggestions that the government failed to properly take care of firefighting aircraft owned by the Turkish Air Association (THK), a key aerial body tasked to fight forest fires, and therefore, could not use them in the recent wildfires, Erdoğan said that those planes were not utilizable.
“This year, we took a different step. We made a deal with the Russians. We took a step forward by leasing planes from them. We are currently continuing this [firefighting] service with those planes. We will increase this number even more. We can also buy multi-purpose planes. There are Sikorsky and the Cougars; we are working on bringing them night vision. We have an idea of using the Sikorsky in the extinguishing process by attaching a basket,” the president stated.
“The fires that happened this year never happened in our history,” he noted.
Forest fires are a global threat, just like the COVID-19 pandemic, Erdoğan said.
The whole world is currently facing this challenge, which is like a “terrorist threat,” he stated.
He said 187 forest fires erupted in Turkey in the past eight days, with 15 of them yet to be put out.
Some 51 helicopters and 20 planes are engaged in operations to douse the wildfires, the president said.
He added that Turkish intelligence and police personnel were thoroughly investigating the fires.
Erdoğan said Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev told him that his country would send another amphibious aircraft, which is currently undergoing maintenance, to Turkey to support its ongoing battle against the forest fires in its southern provinces.
HH COVID-19 vaccination
Turning to the global coronavirus pandemic, Erdoğan said that Turkey aimed to get emergency use authorization for its indigenous Turkovac COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible for its widespread use in the country.
“Phase 1 and Phase 2 of our domestic vaccine Turkovac have been successfully completed,” he said, adding the clinical and research phase started in June.
He also said that the Turkish economy would see 7 percent growth this year and that inflation and interest rates would drop in the coming period.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan also visited Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on Aug. 3.