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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsGreece Among the First Nations to Help Turkey after Massive Earthquake

Greece Among the First Nations to Help Turkey after Massive Earthquake

Greece Turkey Earthquake
Greece sent a team of 21 firefighters with two rescue dogs and a special rescue vehicle to earthquake-stricken Turkey. Credit: Ministry for the Climate Crisis and Civil Protection

Greece vowed on Monday morning to help Turkey in the aftermath of the massive earthquake that has killed more than 4,500 people so far in the southeast of the country and Syria.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted that “Greece is mobilizing its resources and will assist immediately.”

Mitsotakis has instructed specialized teams be immediately sent to assist rescue efforts.

A team of 21 firefighters with two rescue dogs and a special rescue vehicle has already departed for Turkey on board a C-130 military aircraft from Elefsina airport.

The team is accompanied by a Fire Brigade officer-engineer, five doctors and rescuers from EKAB as well as the professor and president of the Earthquake Planning and Protection Organisation of Greece, Efthymios Lekkas.

The country’s head of state president Katerina Sakelloropoulou also voiced sympathy and support tweeting that the Greek people “stand in solidarity” with both countries.

“Overwhelmed by the images of destruction caused by earthquake in Turkey and Syria. On behalf of the Greek people and myself, I express my condolences to the families of the victims. We stand in solidarity, support the work of the rescue teams, and wish speedy recovery to the injured.”

At least 4,500 people have been killed and scores have been injured in Turkey and Syria after two powerful earthquakes on Monday within the space of 12 hours.

Greece Turkey earthquake diplomacy

Greece has offered to help Turkey following devastating earthquakes in the past.

The so-called Greek–Turkish earthquake diplomacy was initiated after successive earthquakes hit both countries in the summer of 1999 and led to an improvement in Greek–Turkish relations.

The August 17th earthquake in Turkey devastated large parts of the country and killed seventeen thousand people. Greece moved to send a great deal of aid, donating blood and extending a helping hand despite decades of mistrust.

Greece was the first foreign country to pledge aid and support for Turkey. Within hours of the earthquake, the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs had contacted their counterparts in Turkey, and sent his personal envoys to Turkey. On August 17, 1999, and November 13, 1999, Greece sent a rescue team of twenty-four people and two trained rescue dogs. It also sent fire-extinguishing planes.

An earthquake struck Athens a month later, which killed 143 people. The Turkish people responded likewise, sending rescue workers and other support. Turks jammed the phone lines of the Greek consulates and embassy in Turkey calling to find out if they could donate blood. One volunteer even contacted Ambassador Corantis, offering to donate his kidney for a “Greek in need.”

Earthquake diplomacy at the time generated an outpouring of sympathy and generous assistance provided by ordinary Greeks and Turks in both cases. Such acts were encouraged from the top and took many foreigners by surprise. They prepared the public for a breakthrough in bilateral relations, which had been marred by decades of mutual hostility.


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