Ankara’s humanitarian foreign policy stands out amid the pandemic in delivering medical aid to more than 150 countries.
One of the most important elements of Turkey's foreign relations throughout the year was humanitarian diplomacy based on international aid efforts to support the common fight against the pandemic. Medical assistance delivered to every corner of the globe has been the latest manifestation of Turkey’s humanitarian foreign policy and a part of its historical tradition of generosity.
Just after the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, Turkey was one of the first countries to provide medical assistance to the Asian country. Since then, Turkey has sent medical aid packages to many corners of the globe, including developed Western countries and NATO allies.
Ali Faik Demir, international relations associate professor at Galatasaray University, described Turkey's quick response to nearly all calls for help since the first day of the virus outbreak during the pandemic period as a manifestation of its humanitarian foreign policy.
Jana Jabbour, an expert on Turkey and the Middle East at Sciences Po Paris, noted that under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has always portrayed itself on the international scene as a humanitarian power, who contributes to the relief of people in need and who provides assistance for victims of disasters.
Earlier in December, Erdoğan stressed the importance of international solidarity and aid during the pandemic, noting that Turkey had provided aid to some 156 countries and nine international organizations since the virus emerged in China about a year ago.
Turkey will continue to implement an entrepreneurial and humanitarian foreign policy in the field and at the table in 2021, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also said last month during a presentation on the ministry's budget and structure as well as foreign policy goals and priorities at the Plan and Budget Commission of Parliament.
Demir explained the concept of Turkey's humanitarian foreign policy as a continuation of an established understanding and application since the period of the Ottoman Empire.
It was well documented that Turkey has been one of the countries that provided most humanitarian assistance around the world.
According to the Development Initiatives’ Global Humanitarian Assistance Report, Turkey spent the most in the world on global humanitarian assistance for two years in a row in 2017 and 2018. One aspect that made Turkey’s pandemic aid efforts significant was that it did not only send medical aid packages to the least developed countries of the world, it also extended a helping hand to the developed Western countries, including NATO allies.
NATO's secretary-general praised Turkey for sending medical aid to Italy and Spain, the worst hit in Europe by the coronavirus pandemic at the time.
On April 10, the United Kingdom became the next stop of Turkish medical aid to the NATO allies.
The United States was another country that received Turkey’s medical aid packages on April 28. U.S. Ambassador to Ankara David Satterfield thanked the country in the name of the U.S. government for the “generous donation."
During the early phase of its international aid campaign, Turkey also sent medical equipment to Balkan countries including Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North
Macedonia, neighbor countries Iraq, Iran and Bulgaria, and various corners of the globe such as South Africa, Colombia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Regarding Turkey's medical assistance to the West, Demir said Ankara never discriminated in the selection of countries to help and responded to the demands from the West as it did to other parts of the world.
Darul Ihsan Media Desk