Turkey and South Africa lead regional efforts in tackling Covid-19
As each country is under severe distress to strike a balance between protecting the health of its people and providing a livelihood through a functioning economy under the pandemic, I am proud to witness that Turkey and South Africa have been at the forefronts of the efforts to tackle Covid-19 in their respective regions.
South Africa has not only taken timely precautions to declare a nation-wide lockdown to curb the spread of the virus in early stages, but continues to implement necessary economic and social relief measures with great determination. This resolute stance by South Africa surely sets an example for its region, as well as resonating with the wider Africa. As a diplomat living in this country with her family, I find invaluable reassurance and much needed mental support in South Africa’s capacity and willingness to cope with coronavirus.
In the same vein, Turkey has been implementing comprehensive social and economic measures to ensure the health and wellbeing of its people, as well as undertaking a key responsibility to act as a regional hub, thanks to its geographic role bridging Europe and Asia and fulfilling its pledge to bring home our citizens abroad with repatriation flights. Thanks to Turkey’s strong health system, the number of cases remains under control. We hope to work on a possible cooperation with South Africa in the health sector in the upcoming period.
I am proud to say that Turkey ranks as the most generous country in providing humanitarian aid and is currently the 3rd greatest supplier of medical aid across the world. Some two-thirds of the nations of the world have requested medical supplies from Turkey to fight coronavirus, and nearly half of the requests from our allies and friends were met. It is my honour to announce that this also includes South Africa.
Notwithstanding the smear campaign against the Turkish military aircraft landing in Cape Town, in the framework of bilateral cooperation between the defence industries of the two countries, which was concluded before the outbreak of Covid-19 and the following lockdown, the aircraft also brought along medical supplies, containing PPE, to South Africa.
Needless to say, such military transactions are subject to strict legal scrutiny in both countries and naturally they were cleared from relevant authorities with all necessary permits granted. However, I regret to see that the matter was taken out of context in the media and abused so as to serve the ill-intended underlying agendas of Turkey’s enemies, attempting to vilify Turkey as if it is a destination of concern. Sadly, this is a precarious indication of an unconstructive mentality, a rejection towards all sorts of cooperation.
On another note, as a loyal subscriber, I am once again disappointed that after many attempts at correction and guidance, IOL continues to publish propaganda by the so-called “Hizmet” movement, that is the Fethullahist Terror Organisation (FETO). It is apparent that IOL fell prey to this group’s ongoing abuse of the freedom of expression rightfully championed in this country.
As ever, Turkey is willing to go the extra mile, especially at such challenging times. In our humanitarian efforts, we derive our motto from the much-revered Rumi; “After hopelessness, there is so much hope and after darkness, there is much brighter sun”.
Despite some feeble malevolent attempts, the Turkish Embassy will continue to work on strengthening mutually beneficial bilateral relations with South Africa, in order to fully realize the vast potential of cooperation.
* Elif Çomoğlu Ülgen is Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.