Syria's Foreign Minister Says Coordination On Humanitarian Level With Turkey Required

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 08th February, 2023) Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said on Tuesday that the coordination of humanitarian efforts between Ankara and Damascus is required against the backdrop of powerful earthquakes that hit both countries.

"There was no coordination between Syria and Turkey, even on the humanitarian level - though it is needed," Mekdad told the Al Mayadeen broadcaster.

Mekdad also said that sanctions against Syria "made the disaster all the worse" as the country cannot receive humanitarian aid.

"Many countries have sent aid to Syria, and we thank all the leaders who contacted us, sending their condolences and expressing their will to give us aid... The situation is very hard, and regardless of the amount of aid sent to Syria, it needs much more... Aid from Europe does not need a request and bureaucracy, as humanitarian aid is not subject to sanctions. Humanitarian aid is not subject to sanctions in accordance with international laws, so this is not an excuse," the minister told the broadcaster.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Tuesday that the European Union's sanctions against Syria make efforts to provide Damascus with humanitarian aid "more complicated."

"I want to stress this: this is not about geopolitics. This is not about sort of recognizing any regime. This is about saving people in horrible conditions who desperately need our assistance," Mitsotakis told CNN.

The prime minister expressed doubt that aid will make it to the impacted area and people as there is no "official interlocutor" in Syria. Thus, he urged that humanitarian aid be provided through the United Nations or the EU.

"No country on its own has the ability to actually make these sorts of arrangements. That's why I think it is important that these negotiations could take place either through the UN or through the European Union by pulling resources. I would not feel confident having these sort of discussions at a bilateral level," he said.

On Monday, a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake with several powerful aftershocks, followed by another earthquake, rattled parts of Turkey and Syria, toppling thousands of homes and killing over 7,000 in both countries.

Swedish broadcaster SVT reported on Tuesday that Stockholm would send some $2.8 million in emergency humanitarian aid to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to help Syria and Turkey overcome the consequences of earthquakes.

According to Czech news outlet Idnes, residents of the Czech Republic have raised over $1.1 million in donations and sent the money to charitable organizations to help earthquake-affected Turkey and Syria.