Moscow: NATO members, as well as Sweden and Finland, sent over 1,400 emergency services workers to Turkey to help the country deal with the consequences of the deadly earthquakes, the alliance said.
On Monday, a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake with several powerful aftershocks, followed by another earthquake, rattled parts of Turkey and Syria, toppling thousands of homes and killing over 6,000 in both countries.
“More than 1,400 emergency response personnel from more than twenty NATO Allies and partners — including invitees Finland and Sweden — are deploying to Türkiye, helping to respond to the devastating earthquakes which struck the country on 6 February,” NATO said in a statement.
The alliance’s assistance to Ankara includes various types of support measures, including “rescue teams with rescue dogs, fire fighters and structural engineering teams, medical personnel and supplies, and seismic experts,” according to the statement.
Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership on May 18, 2022. Turkey initially blocked the process for considering these applications, but in late June, Turkey, Sweden and Finland signed a security memorandum that was supposed to take into account Ankara’s concerns, including the extradition of Kurdish activists. To date, Sweden and Finland’s applications have not been ratified by two countries out of 30 — Hungary and Turkey.
Relations between Turkey and Sweden became especially strained after Rasmus Paludan, the leader of the far-right Danish political party Stram Kurs, burned a copy of the Quran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm on January 21. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned this act, warning that Sweden’s bid to join NATO can be blocked.