ADDS MORE REMARKS FROM TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER
By Diyar Guldogan
ANKARA (AA) — Türkiye met "immense solidarity and generosity" of the international community in the aftermath of the massive quakes last month, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.
"We saw the immense solidarity and generosity of the international community. Rescue teams from all over the world put themselves at risk to rescue victims.
"We are grateful. We will never forget the helping hands of our friends," Cavusoglu said at the International Donors' Conference in Brussels.
The conference was organized by European Commission and the Swedish presidency of the Council of the European Union to support victims affected by devastating Feb. 6 earthquakes in southern Türkiye.
Magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes struck 11 provinces — Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, Sanliurfa, and Elazig — in southern and southeastern Türkiye, and claimed the lives of over 50,000 people.
More than 13.5 million people in Türkiye have been affected by the devastating quakes, as well as many others in northern Syria.
Türkiye now moves to the recovery and reconstruction phase, Cavusoglu said, adding: "Increasing the resilience to disasters is just one goal."
Meeting the needs of those in vulnerable situations will be a priority, he pledged.
"The earthquakes hit 1.7 million Syrian refugees and migrants living in our 11 provinces. They will also benefit from these efforts in an inclusive manner," he stressed.
- Türkiye to improve housing conditions
Cavusoglu underlined that Türkiye will improve housing and infrastructure, along with economic conditions, adding that the region's cultural and natural heritage will also be restored and protected.
Promising more public and green spaces in the disaster zone, he said the climate change measures would serve as a "key component of our recovery and reconstruction phases."
"Special attention will be paid to air quality and waste management. We will use newer technologies to reduce the global emissions from construction," he said.
Cavusoglu said the Türkiye Earthquake Recovery and Reconstruction Assessment (TERRA) report was prepared together with the UN Development Program (UNDP), World Bank, and the EU.
"As a candidate country, we thank the EU and our international partners for this joint effort. The report will be instrumental in charting a recovery and reconstruction strategy for us.
"We have recently established a dedicated repository fund to coordinate the reconstruction financing better. It will be subject to independent auditing standards," he said.
Türkiye will make sure that the region prospers again, Cavusoglu stressed, adding: "The cost of doing that would be at least two-fold the physical damage. Therefore, your contributions will be a critical facilitator in that effort."