Erdogan Warns of Repeated Talks about Possible Destructive Quake in Istanbul

Buildings destroyed by the earthquake in the Turkish city of Hatay. (AFP)
Buildings destroyed by the earthquake in the Turkish city of Hatay. (AFP)
TT

Erdogan Warns of Repeated Talks about Possible Destructive Quake in Istanbul

Buildings destroyed by the earthquake in the Turkish city of Hatay. (AFP)
Buildings destroyed by the earthquake in the Turkish city of Hatay. (AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that repeated talks of a potential destructive earthquake in Istanbul are spreading fear among the city’s residents.

Erdogan spoke during his interview with several Turkish TV channels Wednesday evening about the challenges that faced the government in convincing Istanbul residents living in houses built before the Marmara destructive earthquake in 1999 to demolish and reconstruct their houses.

Despite the challenges, the authority succeeded in changing the face of urbanism in many regions, and people started to apply for the demolition and reconstruction of their houses in other areas, added Erdogan.

Persisting talks about an expected destructive quake in Istanbul spread fear among citizens, with some starting to move from the city to other areas, said the President.

He added that up to 27,949 houses are under construction in several states - such as Adiyaman, Kahraman, Kahramanmaras, Gaziantep, Hatay, and Malatya - damaged by the Feb. 6 quakes. Construction of some rural houses is almost completed, and they would be handed out to their owners by summer.

Erdogan mentioned that the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change is carrying out the debris removal works, and the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority is installing tents and establishing field hospitals.

“The scope of the destruction is unprecedented,” UNDP Türkiye Resident Representative Louisa Vinton told Anadolu Agency.

“This is why we expect equally unprecedented commitments from global donors.”

“Reconstruction is not just about bricks and mortar but also lives and livelihoods. People need secure employment to ensure a steady income, they need public services such as health care and education, and they need to be able to shop, relax and socialize with other people,” said Vinton.

“In short, they need to get back to normal life as soon as possible.”

The UNDP has proposed 31 projects that will contribute to the sustainable recovery of Türkiye's quake-hit southern region, she added.

The UNDP's 12 projects include ensuring sustainable management of debris, restoring waste management and water treatment plants, restoring cultural heritage, rehabilitation and restoration of natural assets and livelihoods, and building back better with near-zero emission structures.

The rest of the projects focus on supporting livelihoods and socio-economic recovery, leaving no one behind through targeted support to vulnerable groups, rehabilitating infrastructure, reintegrating the displaced workers into business, accelerating activity in the damaged areas, and boosting the economy.

The proposed projects also focus on strengthening legal protection and social support for persons with disabilities, increasing the psychological and social resilience of quake survivors and affected communities, and improving community resilience.

The organization is seeking $550 million in funding to implement the projects.



Erdogan Dampens Hopes for Restarting Talks on Cyprus' 50-year Ethnic Split

A handout photo made available by the Turkish President Press office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (front-L) and Turkish Cyprus President Ersin Tatar (front-R) laying wreath to monument of the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during their meeting in the Turkish-administered northern part of the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, 15 November 2020. EPA/TURKISH PRESIDENT PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT
A handout photo made available by the Turkish President Press office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (front-L) and Turkish Cyprus President Ersin Tatar (front-R) laying wreath to monument of the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during their meeting in the Turkish-administered northern part of the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, 15 November 2020. EPA/TURKISH PRESIDENT PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT
TT

Erdogan Dampens Hopes for Restarting Talks on Cyprus' 50-year Ethnic Split

A handout photo made available by the Turkish President Press office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (front-L) and Turkish Cyprus President Ersin Tatar (front-R) laying wreath to monument of the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during their meeting in the Turkish-administered northern part of the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, 15 November 2020. EPA/TURKISH PRESIDENT PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT
A handout photo made available by the Turkish President Press office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (front-L) and Turkish Cyprus President Ersin Tatar (front-R) laying wreath to monument of the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during their meeting in the Turkish-administered northern part of the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, 15 November 2020. EPA/TURKISH PRESIDENT PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT

The Turkish president on Saturday put a damper on hopes for a quick resumption of talks to heal a half-century of ethnic division on Cyprus, reaffirming his support for a two-state deal that Greek Cypriots dismiss as a non-starter.

Speaking ahead of a military parade to mark the 50th anniversary of a Turkish invasion that split the island along ethnic lines, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled out a peace deal based on a United Nations-endorsed plan for federation.

Although Erdogan has previously rejected the federation plan, Greece and the Greek Cypriots had hoped he would soften his position.

The anniversary is a festive occasion for Turkish Cypriots in the island's northern third, who view the invasion as salvation from the Greek-speaking majority's domination. The invasion followed a coup that aimed at a union with Greece, which was backed by the Junta then ruling in Athens, according to The AP.

In the south, the howl of air raid sirens at daybreak began a solemn day marking what Greek Cypriots remember as a catastrophe that left thousands of people dead or missing and displaced a quarter of the Greek Cypriot population.

Erdogan’s remarks may further complicate UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ effort to get both sides back to the negotiating table. His personal envoy, Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar, has spent the past six months scoping both sides out.

“We will continue to fight with determination for the recognition of the TRNC (breakaway Turkish Cypriot state) and the implementation of a two-state solution," Erdogan told throngs of Turkish Cypriots lining the parade route in scorching heat in the northern half of the divided capital, Nicosia.

“A federal solution in Cyprus is not possible, this is what we believe. ... The Turkish Cypriot side, as equals with the Greek side, are willing to negotiate and are ready to sit down and negotiate. If you want a solution, you need to recognize the rights of Turkish Cypriots."

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar reiterated that Turkish Cypriots reject “domination” by the Greek Cypriot majority and seek “equal national status” for their breakaway state they unilaterally declared in 1983, which is only recognized by Turkey. He added that there's now “no common ground” for a return to peace negotiations.

Referring to a recent resolution in the Ankara parliament calling for a two-state solution, Tatar said it “will help us and our cause incredibly.”

The island's Greek Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides urged Türkiye and the Turkish Cypriots to re-engage in reunification talks if Ankara genuinely seeks regional security and stability and to nudge closer to the European Union.

After numerous failed rounds of peace negotiations, many Cypriots on both sides — although jaded — still hold out a glimmer of hope for a peace deal.