NATO chief due in Türkiye to express alliance’s solidarity after quake disaster
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will pay a visit to Türkiye on Feb. 16 to express the alliance’s solidarity and support after two devastating earthquakes that killed tens of thousands of people in southeastern Anatolian provinces.
“I am going to Türkiye and meet with President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and Foreign Minister [Mevlüt] Çavuşoğlu to express my condolences and my solidarity,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference in Brussels following the defense ministers’ meeting on Feb. 15.
He is also expected to visit areas affected by the earthquakes of Feb. 6. Çavuşoğlu and Stoltenberg will also hold a press conference following the talks.
The secretary-general said that all the allies have expressed their deepest condolences and support to Türkiye, recalling that the shelters the alliance is providing will arrive in the earthquake-hit region within days. He said he will discuss with Erdoğan and Çavuşoğlu on how NATO will continue its relief support to the people of Türkiye.
On a question, Stoltenberg said the issue of Sweden and Finland’s bid to join the alliance will also be on the table during his talks in Ankara. “I urge Türkiye to ratify the accession protocols of Sweden and Finland,” he said.
In case Türkiye wants to ratify only Finland, it is up to Türkiye, he said, recalling the alliance’s ultimate intention and wish is to see the two Nordic states in NATO together.
In the meantime, Norway has sent its C-130J Hercules transport aircraft to Türkiye to support evacuation efforts and transport of emergency aid following the devastating earthquakes, the alliance said.
It informed the first medical evacuation mission was flown on Feb. 13, 2023, evacuating 28 patients via Adana airport to hospitals in Ankara.