HATAY, Türkiye : National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Thursday hailed NATO’s support after last week’s devastating earthquakes in southern Türkiye.
“The earthquakes we experience are among the greatest natural disasters of the century. We would like to express our gratitude to each of our allies, partners and friends who support us in these difficult days,” Akar told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in quake-hit Hatay province.
After meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in the capital Ankara to convey his messages of solidarity, Stoltenberg visited areas affected by the deadly earthquakes, which claimed the lives of at least 36,187 people.
The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 tremors were centered in Kahramanmaras and struck 10 other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, Sanliurfa, and Elazig. More than 13 million people have been affected by the devastating quakes.
Earlier Thursday, Stoltenberg highlighted that NATO is setting up temporary housing in Hatay, and will use allied strategic airlift capabilities to transport tens of thousands of tents to Türkiye in the coming days and weeks.
“After these difficult days, we welcome the Alliance’s activation of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center (EADRCC) and the decision to establish a tent city of 2,000 people in Iskenderun,” Akar said.
The minister also thanked Stoltenberg for the solidarity shown after the disaster, for his visit, as well as the lowering of all flags at NATO headquarters in Brussels, and observing a moment of silence at the opening of the NATO defense ministers meeting on Feb. 14 to honor the victims.
“All these are the clearest and most meaningful indicator of NATO’s spirit of unity, solidarity and alliance,” Akar said.
Akar and Stoltenberg inspected the damage caused by the earthquake in Hatay from the air. — AA