The deputy head of Turkey's General Directorate of Forestry, Mustafa Özkaya, has praised the country's aerial firefighting capacity and claimed that Ankara accepts aid from others because it would be diplomatically wrong to turn them down.
Özkaya's remarks prompted surprise since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan admitted last week that Turkey doesn't have a single firefighting plane, causing devastating forest fires to continue raging for a week now.
Ankara refrained from asking other countries for help in the face of the environmental disaster until recently. People's desperate calls on other countries for help were slammed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
According to Özkaya, however, Turkey's aerial firefighting capacity is "really great."
"We can't turn the countries that want to help down because it's diplomatically not correct to do so," he said on Aug. 3, adding that what the country receives from the European Union can't be deemed as "aid."
"This can't be called receiving aid. We're using what our right and that's called receiving support," he said, referring to Turkey's membership in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
#EUSpace for #wildfire monitoring— 🇪🇺 DG DEFIS #StrongerTogether (@defis_eu) August 2, 2021
Severe #wildfires🔥continue in #Turkey fueled by a severe #heatwave#EUCivPro #RescEU has been activated
This @CopernicusEU #Sentinel3 🇪🇺🛰️image acquired on 1 August shows that the smoke cloud has crossed the Mediterranean and reached Egypt😷 pic.twitter.com/lvfsHzMMwJ
Aircraft from Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Ukraine were the initial ones sent to assist in the extinguishing efforts. The EU mobilised three water-carrying planes, one from Croatia and two from Spain, to join the firefighting efforts.