Turkey proposes Mediterranean fleet to fight wildfires

Turkey proposes Mediterranean fleet to fight wildfires

6 August 2008

published by www.turkishdailynews.com.tr

Turkey — After experiencing devastating wildfires in the province of Antalya, Turkey has called on Mediterranean countries join together to fight blazes, a common problem in the region especially in the summer season.

I suggested Mediterranean countries to set up a mutual fleet to fight against forest fires. Our interviews on the subject still continue, Environment and Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu told reporters yesterday.

Stressing that all Mediterranean countries are under threat from forest fires, especially in July and August, Eroğlu touched on the need for an international approach that goes beyond regional cooperation. Since the seasons in northern and southern hemispheres aren’t parallel, countries of the northern and southern hemispheres may also cooperate with each other on the issue, he said.

Eroğlu said he has discussed exchanging fleets with both Australia and New Zealand, who said they were interested in the proposal.  

The Australian Embassy in Ankara welcomed the minister’s proposal and told the Turkish Daily News yesterday that fighting bushfires is something both countries have in common and could be an area of cooperation between Australia and Turkey. We sympathize with Turkey. Fighting bushfires is difficult and they can do terrible damage. Australia has similar difficulties, said an official from the embassy. 

We will start our works to establish a national fire fleet soon, Eroğlu said. The ministry will buy three or four helicopters each year and complete the fire fleet in five or six years, according to Eroğlu.

Campaign to reforest

Eroğlu also gave information about his ministry’s plans to reforest the burned Antalya region. We’ll not let anybody build up anything there and an area 42 times larger than the burned-off-zone will be reforested, Eroğlu. I promise this.

Eroğlu also argued, however, that if a fire like the one in Antalya had started in any other country much more land would have been destroyed. Last year a fire erupted in Greece and I know that foresters deserted efforts to extinguish the fire, he claimed, adding that firemen who fought the wildfires in Antalya vowed not to rest until the fire died down.

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