Opposition leader says Turkey strong enough to heal wounds on its own

CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu spoke to reporters on Monday before he departed for Van, which was hit by a strong earthquake on Sunday.

October 24, 2011, Monday/ 13:28:00

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said Turkey is strong enough to heal its wounds without foreign support as he commented on aid offers pouring to Turkey from other countries, including Israel, after Sunday's deadly earthquake.

Kılıçdaroğlu spoke to reporters on Monday before he departed for Van, which was hit by a strong earthquake on Sunday, and said the situation “seems very serious.” When asked by reporters about recent offers of aid to Turkey by many countries, including Israel, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “We respect humanitarian aid [offers]. But Turkey is strong enough to heal its wounds without any assistance from the outside.”

At least 269 people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured in Van when a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey on Sunday. Several countries offered Turkey humanitarian aid and assistance for search and rescue efforts, but Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey was able to cope for the time being. Azerbaijan, Iran and Bulgaria nevertheless sent assistance, he added.

Israel was also among the countries that offered aid to Turkey despite the deepening diplomatic rift between the two countries in recent years. Israeli-Turkish relations, which have been worsening since last year's flotilla incident, almost collapsed after Turkey swiftly decided to downgrade its diplomatic relations with Israel and put all military agreements on hold following the release of the UN report in August, which revealed that the UN considers the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza legal and also deems the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara aid ship to have resulted in the “unreasonable killing” of civilians. However, despite recent tensions, Turkey also offered aid during a massive wildfire that consumed a large part of Israel's Carmel region late last year, eventually sending several firefighting aircraft.

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