UPDATE - Türkiye ready to do whatever it can to help Greece fight wildfires: President Erdogan

UPDATE - Türkiye ready to do whatever it can to help Greece fight wildfires: President Erdogan

'We convey our best wishes to our Greek neighbors, especially people of Rhodes,' says Recep Tayyip Erdogan


By Diyar Guldogan

ANKARA (AA) - Türkiye is ready to do whatever it can to help Greece fight back its wildfires, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

"We sent two amphibious firefighting aircraft and a firefighting helicopter to our neighbor Greece, (which is) struggling with a huge fire," Erdogan said after a Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara.

While quickly responding to fires in Türkiye, Erdogan said the country is also rushing to help out other countries in need.

"We convey our best wishes to our Greek neighbors, especially the people of Rhodes," he added, referring to the island off southwestern Türkiye, which has had to evacuate tens of thousands amid days of wildfires.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Saturday thanked Türkiye for assistance, as it has struggled to fight raging wildfires since last week.

Devastating wildfires continue to sweep through the Greek islands for the sixth consecutive day, including Rhodes, a tourist hotspot. Several countries, including Türkiye, have reached out to help Greece in extinguishing the blazes, which have burned houses and forests.

- Northern Cyprus

Turning to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Erdogan said Türkiye's support for Northern Cyprus is lasting and that its contributions will continue to rise in all areas from agriculture to energy, from water to electricity, from transportation to health.

"We do not hesitate to assume the responsibility for bringing the island of Cyprus a lasting and just peace. We have shown our sincerity on this issue in all processes up to now, including the (2004) Annan plan, and we will show it again if necessary," Erdogan said.

He said those who have been blocking progress on the island should accept the situation on the ground.

Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

Türkiye fully supports a two-state solution on the island of Cyprus based on sovereign equality and equal international status between its two states.

- Sweden's NATO bid

On Sweden's pending NATO membership bid, Erdogan said Stockholm's accession to the alliance is at the discretion of the Turkish parliament.

At a recent NATO summit in Lithuania, Erdogan agreed to forward to the Turkish parliament Sweden's bid to join NATO for a ratification vote. As parliament is currently on summer recess, it will take up the legislation this fall. All current members of NATO have to agree to any new additions.

Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership shortly after Russia launched its war on Ukraine in February 2022.

Although Türkiye approved Finland's NATO membership, it is waiting for Sweden to fulfill its commitments not to provide shelter to terrorists and supporters of terrorists and not to facilitate their actions.

"Mutual steps to be taken regarding Sweden's membership process to the alliance were determined by a joint statement. With the opening of our parliament, we will do our part.

"The authority that will make the final decision on the accession protocols is the Turkish parliament. We have no doubt that our deputies will do whatever the interests of our country require, in line with their conscience," Erdogan said.

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