Turkey sends second batch of medical supplies to UK
A Turkish military cargo plane carrying the second batch of medical supplies departed on April 12 for the U.K. in a bid to help the coronavirus combat.
"At the direction of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's instructions, the second batch of medical aid that will be used to fight the COVID-19 virus have been sent to the U.K. today," the Defense Ministry said in a tweet.
In the meantime, Wendy Morton, British MP and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for European Neighbourhood thanked Turkey on April 11 for medical supplies sent to the U.K -- one of the worst-hit countries by the coronavirus.
"I want to express thanks to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca for 250,000 items of PPE for the NHS - 14 tonnes of which delivered to Royal Air Force Brize Norton yesterday. This generous gift demonstrates strength of friendship between Turkey and the U.K," she said on Twitter.
The delivery of the aid was covered extensively in the foreign press and Turkey received thanks from British Twitter users.
"They did the same thing for Ireland in1845 in the days of Great Famine. Well done Turkey," said a user on the platform, referring to the Ottoman Empire's aid to Ireland.
Health workers have complained about the lack of medical equipment in the U.K. and criticized the government as 19 health officials have died because of COVID-19.
"I’m sorry if people feel that there have been failings," Home Secretary Priti Patel said at the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing.
Health Minister Matt Hancock emphasized the dire need for medical supplies, saying the equipment should be considered "valuables" and used only for clinical needs.
Turkey previously sent masks, N95 masks, and protective suits on April 10, accompanied by a message to residents in the U.K: "After hopelessness, there is much hope and after darkness, there is the much brighter sun. Rumi."
Turkey will send medical equipment to Israel and medicine to Armenia, both its regional rivals, as part of the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic, a senior Turkish official has said, highlighting the Turkish government’s sensitivity when it comes to humanitarian issues.
“There was a demand for medicine from Armenia. Our president has approved this demand and our Health Ministry is running the process,” İbrahim Kalın, the presidential spokesperson and chief advisor to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, told private broadcaster CNNTürk in an interview on April 12.
Kalın did not give details about Armenia’s demand and whether the medicine would be donated or sold.
Neighboring Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations, with sealed borders due to the latter’s occupation of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh province in 1993. The two nations are also at odds over Armenia’s description of the mass killings of Ottoman Armenians during the World War I as genocide.
Turkey also facilitated the return of around 100 Armenians to home via Georgia last week. Erdoğan had a phone conversation with the Istanbul-based Armenian Patriarch Sahak II over the state of the affairs of the Patriarchate in the wake of the coronavirus as well as the needs of the Armenian community in Turkey.
Equipment to be sent to Israel, Palestine
Kalın also informed that Israel has demanded medical equipment for the fight against the pandemic.
“I think [the process] will be accomplished in the coming days. We will send [medical equipment] simultaneously to Palestine as well,” he said. Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also confirmed the Israeli demand on April 10 and underline Turkey’s intentions to meet the demands both from Israel and Palestine. The medical equipment to be delivered to these two countries will include masks, medical protective suits and test kits.
Turkey and Israel had withdrawn ambassadors as a result of tension created by the United States’ decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.
Kalın recalled that Turkey has been delivering medical equipment to many countries since the beginning of the pandemic, including the worst-hit European countries Italy and Spain, as well as the United Kingdom, five Balkan countries, Azerbaijan and Qatar.
“This is a very humanitarian issue. If there is a need and we have capacity to meet this need, we will continue to supply [the medical equipment]. Turkey has a very brilliant record in terms of humanitarian aids,” Kalın stressed.