Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, Turkey has been playing the card of solidarity with the countries requesting medical assistance.
This attitude is not very surprising since Turkey is the country that provides the most foreign aid concerning its GDP.
What has changed in recent weeks, however, is that even the most developed countries are appealing to Ankara’s generosity.
Screening kits, medicines, masks, respirators, protective suits – all of which have become indispensable tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
No country was prepared for this. Most countries thought they were getting a good deal by continuing to source these strategic materials from China. But the situation has changed with the needs of each country, and there have been close to diplomatic incidents, notably the seizure of the masks intended for Italy and Spain by France.
On the other hand, Turkey, which has managed to keep its production industry in the medical field, did not need to resort to third countries apart from rapid screening tests.
Despite the growing needs on its soil, Turkey has responded favorably to requests from other countries for medical assistance. Furthermore, Turkey had decided to distribute free masks to its population by a presidential decree on 9 April.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told the press that the army would produce 10 million masks a week.
In addition to its population, Turkey will, therefore, be able to help other countries in times of need.
More than 100 countries have approached Turkey
In an interview on a social platform on 14 April, Yavuz Selim Kiran, Turkey’s deputy foreign minister, said a total of 104 countries had requested Ankara’s assistance.
So far, “President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given the green light for 34 countries and continues to do so as far as possible,” he said.
Thus, in February, Turkey sent 200 thousand masks, protective glasses, overalls, disinfectants, and gangs to China, which was severely hit at this time.
Subsequently, its neighbor, Iran, which has seen an increase in favorable cases, called on Turkey to receive test kits, coveralls, glasses, and masks. On March 24, a cargo plane delivered all of the required equipment.
At a press conference on March 21, Turkish Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca said that Turkey had supplied the United States with 500,000 coronavirus test kits.
Since the beginning of April, Turkey has been providing medical aid. For example, on 1 April, the Turkish Forces A-400M cargo aircraft carrying medical aid landed at Torrejon Air Base in Spain and then at Pratica di Mare Air Base in Italy.
The cargo included protective masks, protective suits, disinfection solutions, and thousands of other products made and made in Turkey.
Messages of hope on packages
In addition to the packages, Turkey also wanted to bring some hope to those affected. In this sense, on the packets sent we could read a quote from the famous Turkish mystic thinker and poet, Mevlana, translated into Italian and Spanish:
“Behind the despair hides many hopes. Behind the darkness hide many suns.” Mevlana
Finally, the quote ended with a message to the Spanish and Italian peoples, “with love from the Turkish people”.
A week later, a new shipment left for countries close to Turkey. On 8 April, the country sent medical equipment and supplies to five Balkan countries: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Northern Macedonia.
Two days later, two new countries received medical aid: Libya and the United Kingdom. Again, an A400M military cargo aircraft from the Turkish Armed Forces delivered the equipment to London. As with Spain and Italy, the same message of solidarity was on the packages.
“We thank our friend and our ally Turkey very much for this generous offer. This protective equipment is of vital importance to British health workers who are at the forefront of the fight against the Covid-19, “said British Ambassador to Ankara Dominick Chilcott.
Israel and Armenia also request Turkey
Furthermore, despite tense relations, Ankara has approved the sale of medical equipment to Israel on humanitarian grounds and that Tel Aviv would do the same by allowing similar Turkish aid to the Palestinians.
According to Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, Armenia had also asked for help. Armenia has denied this claim. But according to the Straturka news site, which analyzed the flight data, an Armenian cargo plane landed in Turkey without further details.
Also, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Northern Cyprus, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Tunisia, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Kuwait, and Ireland have also received various medical aids from Turkey.