Turkey’s handling of wildfire disaster stirs controversy
Global climate change is an evident crisis, no longer a scientific discussion. Many countries in the Mediterranean basin are combatting spreading forest fires with thermometers registering record high heat waves.
Turkey, unfortunately, is being most affected by this crisis as multiple wildfires are ravaging across the southern coastal areas of the country.
So, one of the most important aspects concerning these unstoppable wildfires in Turkey is global climate change. Already affected by nationwide drought, deadly floods, polluted freshwater bodies as well as the ongoing mucilage problem in the Marmara Sea, Turkey is proven to be one of the most severely hit countries by this environmental phenomenon. The forest fires in the country’s most precious resort areas expose how painful and costly it will be for Turkey should it delays the essential measures to fight the global crisis nationally and internationally.
The second and most contentious aspect of the ongoing tragedy is the level of preparedness against such a big disaster. The past week has shown in the bitterest way that Turkey lacks strategy, coordination, and most significantly, effective means and vehicles to put out such wildfires.
According to the experts, the most efficient way to fight forest fires is firefighting planes. The government chose to rent three planes from Russia, but the ongoing tragedy has made it clear that Turkey needs much more than this.
The government is being criticized for not being able to create a fleet in past years, although it has very strong air forces and private companies that produced unmanned aerial vehicles.
There are also criticisms on why Turkey was late in issuing a call for help from the regional countries before the wildfire-ravaged key resort areas. Reports inform that planes from Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Spain and Croatia have joined the Turkish efforts to put out the fires, while Qatar and Azerbaijan have also deployed rescue teams.
In the overall assessment, the government’s handling and management of the disaster have been qualified as not a good response to the crisis. In many fire-hit areas where the municipality belongs to the opposition, problems between the central and local governments have been observed. Plus, Forestry and Agriculture Minister Bekir Pakdemirli’s blaming the oppositional municipalities has drawn criticisms. The main opposition has thus asked for the resignation of Pakdemirli.
This heartbreaking environmental and climate crisis has shown that Turkey should leave politics aside and should take all the measures without delay to avoid the repetition of such tragedies in the future. On top of the measures is establishing an effective fleet to immediately put out the forest fires. Another move should be the ratification of the Paris Climate Convention. What we live through is a global crisis and Turkey’s participation in the global efforts has become much more vital.