Erdoğan asks for 'blessing' of quake-hit citizens over inadequate gov’t response

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has asked for the “blessing” of earthquake-hit citizens, admitting that the government had failed to respond adequately in the “first couple of days” after two major earthquakes hit the country’s southeastern region. Opposition parties slammed Erdoğan over his remarks, saying that he cannot avoid accountability and needs to face the consequences of the negligence.

Duvar English

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the government had failed to run the post-earthquake rescue and search efforts “in the efficiency desired” and asked for people’s “blessing” in return.

“Adıyaman is one of the cities that was most affected by the successive powerful earthquakes and aftershocks that we have experienced that is unprecedented in the world. In the first couple of days, in Adıyaman, we were, unfortunately, unable to run the (rescue and search) works with the efficiency we desired, due to the destructive effect of the quakes, the negative weather conditions and the difficulties that were brought by the damaged infrastructure. I ask for your blessing because of this,” he said on Feb. 27 in southeastern Adıyman.

“We are aware of everything and no one should have a doubt that we are doing and will do what is necessary. With the overcoming of the problems in the first couple of days (after the quakes), we have accelerated the efforts to rescue our Adıyman brothers and the aid efforts,” Erdoğan said.

He said that 6,013 citizens, most of whom were living in the Adıyaman center, have lost their lives in the earthquakes. One of them was ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker Yakup Taşın.

Erdoğan also said that in the aftermath of the quakes, half of the province have been evacuated to Istanbul and other citizens. “And we have shown every kind of convenience to those who have gone to other places with their own means.”

Adıyaman is one of the 10 provinces widely affected by the earthquakes of Feb. 6, one at a magnitude of 7.7 and 7.6. The government has since faced criticism over inadequate and slow response to the victims.

Opposition parties slammed Erdoğan over his remarks, with Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) saying that it was not "giving its blessing." "We are not giving our blessing to those who used the earthquake taxes out of their purpose, who channelled millions (of liras) to construction lobbies, who caused thousands of people to die by freezing, who are exploiting AFAD and Kızılay, and those who are issuing zoning amnesty laws," the HDP tweeted. 

DEVA Party chairman Ali Babacan said that Erdoğan could not avoid accountability by just asking for people's "blessing." "Mr. Erdoğan, you should not ask for the blessing of those who remained (alive), but those who died due to your negligence. You cannot escape from responsibility just by asking for blessing. How many people have lost their lives due to the delays in the first 48 hours (after the quakes?" Babacan asked on Twitter.