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Turkey stands with Britain to beat Covid-19

Turkey's medical aid packages are being prepared for a military cargo plane, that will deliver them to United Kingdom to support the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Etimesgut Air Base in Ankara, Turkey on 10 April, 2020 [Hakan Nural/Anadolu Agency]
Turkey's medical aid packages are being prepared for a military cargo plane, that will deliver them to United Kingdom to support the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Etimesgut Air Base in Ankara, Turkey on 10 April, 2020 [Hakan Nural/Anadolu Agency]

As we all experience the impact of the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, we are witnessing unprecedented changes to our daily lives, the global economy, our hospitals and our public services. Whilst some world leaders seem to have considered this to be a "Chinese" problem as they watched the virus grip Wuhan in January, it has now overtaken the globe completely and presents us all with multiple challenges.

Covid-19 is not to be taken lightly, with nearly 2.5 million confirmed cases and over 170,000 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University. Allies must stand together at such a time to beat the new common enemy, as we would do on a war footing. It is clear that we really are all in this together, and the failure of one has the potential to affect everyone adversely. We cannot be complacent.

Britain's call for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other crucial medical supplies to help the National Health Service (NHS) have not gone unanswered. In addition to the 320,000 items of PPE which arrived at RAF Brize Norton from Turkey over the Easter holiday, the government in Ankara is sending a massive 84-tonne consignment to the UK, half of which arrived in the middle of last week.

READ: Turkey medical equipments arrives in UK

Now is not the time to be political point-scoring, but it's important to clarify the delay of the latest shipment from Turkey, for which some mainstream British journalists were quick to point the finger of blame at Ankara. The reality is that it was due to a communication problem from the British side involving a private company in Turkey that did not have the export licence at the time. Thankfully, the Turkish government quickly and successfully addressed the issue in order to ensure that no further delay occurred and 30,000 PPE items were duly delivered. A further 120,000 were sent by a state-owned company. In total, 720,000 items of PPE will be sent by Turkey to the UK.

Moreover, at the beginning of April, Turkey supplied masks and Covid-19 test kits to Italy, Spain and several countries in the Balkans, in response to requests made through NATO's Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre. Over a hundred states have requested medical equipment from Turkey and supplies have been dispatched to more than 30 to date.

Unfortunately, there are some who seek to exploit this crisis to suit their own warped intentions. Elements of the far-right in Britain, for example, tried to exploit the coronavirus crisis by propagating Islamophobic information on social media ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The fact that Muslim doctors and nurses are on the front line fighting the virus, and were the first to sacrifice their lives to protect others is of note.

Furthermore, Muslim charities have provided a lifeline for struggling communities across Britain, helping to provide food parcels, supply PPE to hospitals and give financial assistance to those in need. In a recent letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson — who has Turkish Muslim ancestry — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan noted the strong alliance between the UK and Turkey and offered condolences to the victims of the virus.

READ: Massive import of Turkish coronavirus supplies delayed in UK

This is characteristic of Turkey's historic role in prioritising humanitarian values of dignity and brotherhood in times of crisis, and reminiscent of previous such acts of solidarity.

Whilst Ankara has granted 100 billion TL (£11.7bn) to help its citizens overcome the economic challenges of the pandemic, its aid to 3.5 million refugees within Turkey has continued unabated. Meanwhile, its initiative on the international front to assist the countries most severely affected by the coronavirus is growing.

As the chairman of the AK Party UK, I will continue to have discussions with our friends and partners to see what more Turkey can do to help those in need. We welcome comments by Wendy Morton, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the European Neighbourhood, who said of the PPE supplies, "This generous gift demonstrates the strength of friendship between Turkey and the UK."

We call for continuing collective endeavours to deal with the impact of the virus even as we continue to build on the strong relations between London and Ankara.

PPE shipments to Britain from Turkey were emblazoned with both of our national flags, and bore an inscription by the 13th century poet Jalaluddin Rumi: "There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness." That is a very positive note on which to end as Turkey stands with Britain to beat Covid-19.

Coronavirus is affecting the whole world, will it unite us - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Coronavirus is affecting the whole world, will it unite us? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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ArticleCoronavirusEurope & RussiaOpinionTurkeyUK
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