Turkey’s presidential spokesman admits mistakes, says government will do more to “protect our people”
Turkey’s presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, told CNN that recovery efforts are “making progress on the ground” after a devastating earthquake struck the region shared with Syria two weeks ago, but more work remains to be done.
“We are dealing with a disaster of huge proportions, we have never seen anything like this. Ten, eleven cities have been affected at the same time in a large area, so it will take some time to organize everything, but we are working day and night… We always have to do more to protect our people,” Kalin told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an interview Wednesday.
In Turkey, more than 300,000 tents have been distributed to people in affected areas, and Kalin said “tens of thousands” are still on the way, including containers and other temporary shelters. Acknowledging the support provided to Turkey by NGOs, international organizations and other countries, he said the government was preparing a new “action plan” and “response mechanism”.
“Our president said that we are not going to discriminate between slightly damaged and damaged buildings: all of them will be demolished, all will be rebuilt… That, of course, requires work. We plan to build the first 200,000 new anti-seismic buildings. Seismic houses throughout the next year .The works have already started,” he continued.
Frustration has grown among the Turkish public about the government’s response to the earthquake and whether or not it was adequately prepared. In response, the president’s spokesman told CNN that “there’s always something else to do.”
“Those who have expressed concern are fine, we are taking it very seriously. We are listening to expert scientists, seismologists, geotechnical experts and others and we will build our new cities according to these scientific data, no doubt about it,” he said. said.
Kalin acknowledged political infighting between various Turkish parties, who blame each other for the backlash, but said the government was focused on creating a “safer and better future” for Turkish citizens.
Turkish authorities have arrested more than 100 Turkish contractors and jailed several for allegedly engaging in substandard construction after the earthquake in Turkey. Reports have surfaced that the Turkish government has in the past granted amnesty to contractors for construction projects without required safety requirements.
Asked to respond, Kalin told CNN that the government has “continued aggressive measures” over the past decade to address these issues, including updating building codes and regulations. If people actively followed those codes, “we would be in a much better position,” he said.
“I don’t want to deflect responsibility in any way. We are in a position of responsibility and without a doubt we need to take action. It’s a matter of a culture of understanding, and everyone following these guidelines and regulations – individuals. , builders, private industry, municipalities, central government, the whole world. -, we all learn big lessons, very expensive and sad, but the best lessons of all,” he added.
Turkey has been one of the main gateways for aid to northwestern Syria since an earthquake rocked the region, but President Erdogan has not spoken to his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, Kalin said; However, he said the Turkish government was in contact with Syrian officials and residents on the ground.
Reports have emerged that President Erdogan’s response to the earthquake could determine the outcome of the election, which was scheduled for May 14 but could be postponed to June. Asked for confirmation by CNN, Colin said the president can’t make that decision alone.
“As said earlier, there has been a call from opposition parties to hold elections on May 14. Now we don’t know whether it will change or not, it depends on the High Election Commission; they will take the final decision. But if the political parties come together and agree to postpone it to June 18, it is possible. … There seems to be a tendency to hold some political consultations on time, unless they lead to another conclusion in the next few days.
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