By Burc Eruygur and Diyar Guldogan
ISTANBUL (AA) - Turkic states on Thursday voiced the need to develop a response mechanism against natural disasters, during an extraordinary summit of the heads of state of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS).
The OTC heads of state summit, which is taking place in the Turkish capital Ankara, is attended by the presidents of Türkiye, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), as well as the premier of Hungary and the chairman of the People's Council of Turkmenistan.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, also the current chairman of the OTS, said during his opening remarks that many people were affected and killed by the earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye last month.
“Our fraternal peoples have come together through various calamities over the millennia,” Mirziyoyev said.
He also proposed, at the initiative of the OTS, to mark Feb. 6 as a day of “remembrance and unity” for those who died due to the Kahramanmaras-centered quakes.
For his part, chairman of the People's Council of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted that he hoped the OTS will accept Turkmenistan as a member state.
“We need to give each other support as friends and brothers. … We all need to be one,” Berdimuhamedov said.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said a total of 940 search, rescue, and medical personnel went to Türkiye to assist in operations in the quake-hit regions of the country, resulting in the rescue of 53 people.
Aliyev further said medical support was provided to 300 people, and 520 tons of humanitarian aid was delivered.
He also noted that Azerbaijan and Türkiye have always stood by each other in both good and bad times, emphasizing that this will continue to be the case in the future.
During his remarks, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said “thousands of our brothers” lost their lives during the quakes in Türkiye, and that the Kazakh people did not remain indifferent to these sufferings through the aid they provided.
Tokayev also underlined the need to mobilize the OTS’ efforts against natural disasters, proposing to create an emergency management group under the organization.
Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov also declared the need to improve the OTS’ response mechanism to natural disasters.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Hungary helped Türkiye right after the earthquakes, stressing that the countries have historic ties.
“We are proud to support you (Türkiye) in the rebuilding process in the upcoming period,” Orban added.
The OTS, formerly called the Turkic Council, is an international organization comprising prominent independent Turkic countries that work together to elevate relations and union among themselves.
Its members are Türkiye, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, while EU state Hungary, Turkmenistan, and the TRNC have observer status.