Turkiye comes to the aid of Greece as country battles deadly wildfires

Turkiye was among the countries to the assistance of Greece as it battled a series of wildfires that started to breakout on Monday following extremely hot weather.

Thousands have had to flee their homes and hotels to escape the fires raging across the country, including in Western Attica, Laconia (southern Peloponnese), and on the island of Rhodes, which is just 11 miles off the coast of Turkiye.

Greece issued an urgent request for help earlier this week prompting many neighbouring countries to send both firefighters and firefighting equipment.

On Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan instructed Turkish officials to quickly dispatch amphibious firefighting planes and a firefighting helicopter to Greece. The Turkish Communications Directorate confirmed the aid sent in a tweet on Friday:

“Under the instructions of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 2 firefighting planes and 1 firefighting helicopter registered in the inventory of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry General Directorate of Forestry and crews will be sent to Greece.

“Amphibious aircraft with effective manoeuvrability and a firefighting helicopter produced with indigenous and national resources will be used in Greece to respond to wildfires.”

The Turkish aircraft arrived early on Saturday, joining those from other nations sending assistance, including Italy, Croatia, France, Jordan, Israel and South Cyprus. Poland, Slovakia, and Romania sent more than 220 firefighters and 79 vehicles, with Bulgaria sending a further 50 firefighters and 10 vehicles over the weekend.

Ankara’s action was received positively in Greece, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis publicly thanking the Turks.

“Our gratitude goes out to Türkiye for sending two firefighting planes and one helicopter to assist us in our fight against forest fires. Thank you Türkiye!,” Mitsotakis tweeded on Saturday.

The Greek Foreign Ministry also thanked Turkiye in a tweet: “Thank you #Türkiye for your readiness to provide firefighting support & assist #Greece in tackling severe wildfires.”

Greece and Turkiye have pledged to improve relations. In February, Greece was among the first countries to come to Turkiye’s aid, sending search and rescue teams following the devastating twin earthquakes that struck Hatay and Gaziantep killing over 50,000 people.


Main image, top, shows firefighting aircrafts as they drop water to extinguish a wildfire in Asklipio village, on Rhodes island, Greece, 23 July 2023. Photo © DAMIANIDIS LEFTERIS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (14019379d)