EU signs $431M deal with Türkiye to support its recovery after 2023 earthquakes

EU signs $431M deal with Türkiye to support its recovery after 2023 earthquakes

EU pledges to provide €1B to help country as ‘largest sum ever awarded to a candidate country,’ says European commissioner

By Merve Berker

ANKARA (AA) – The European Union signed an agreement with Türkiye on Wednesday on a €400 million ($431 million) grant from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to finance recovery operations following the devastating twin earthquakes that hit the country last February.

The signing ceremony was held at the European Commission’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium with the attendance of European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Mehmet Kemal Bozay.

In a speech, Ferreira expressed “sympathy on behalf of the European Commission with the people of Türkiye,” especially to “all who lost their homes or their loved ones.”

“The EU stands in solidarity with Türkiye and has pledged to deliver €1 billion of assistance,” she said.

“Today we are signing an agreement to deliver €400 million from the EU Solidarity Fund. In the history of this post-disaster relief instrument, this is the largest sum ever awarded to a candidate country. This is also the first time that Türkiye receives support from the Fund,” she said.

“This exceptional level of support is justified by the exceptional circumstances. When help is needed, Europe responds. Not just for Member States, but also for our neighbors.”

Ferreira noted that EU officials have been working with Ankara since the twin disasters took place in February last year, saying the aim of the pledge is to “support first the repair of infrastructure, especially in the fields of health and education, but also in water and wastewater.”

“Second, the Fund will support temporary accommodation, including container cities,” she said, adding: “Third, preventive measures to secure infrastructure and protect cultural heritage.”

She also said the European Commission is “prepared to provide further guidance and support during the implementation period.”

Bozay expressed gratitude “for the unwavering support the EU and its members provided in the aftermath of the earthquakes.”

“We are also deeply touched by the solidarity of our European friends in assisting with recovery efforts in the earthquake-affected regions,” he said.

On the EU’s pledge, he said: “We have prepared all the details of what we will do with this agreement.”

Describing the deal as “a landmark development” among similar pledge efforts, Bozay said, however, that “considering the scale of the devastation, the amount to be released in this agreement will cover only a tiny fraction of our extensive reconstruction efforts.”

He also underscored that the “significance” of the pledge “goes beyond its financial value.”

“It symbolizes the EU's solidarity with us, with Türkiye,” he said, noting that “the allocated funds…are intended for various purposes, including the construction of schools and hospitals in the affected areas as well as the restoration of structures in cultural heritage.”

The Feb. 6, 2023 earthquakes that hit southern Türkiye killed a total of 53,537 people and injured more than 107,000 others.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes struck 11 Turkish provinces – Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Hatay, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

More than 14 million people were affected in Türkiye along with many others in northern Syria.

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