Greece the first nation to launch earthquake aid to Türkiye
Emphasizing that the Greek people showed great interest in the campaign for the earthquake victims after the earthquake disaster in Türkiye, Papastergiou said, "It was the people, not the mayors, who initiated this demand. The people mobilized the mayors for this aid. The citizens themselves, from different cities, demanded that we start a mechanism to send something that very day. We just conveyed this love, this need of the Greek people to help the Turkish people."
Papastergiou said that it was difficult to determine what the real needs were in the first hours of the disaster, adding, "After the initial shock, in cooperation with the Turkish Embassy in Athens and the Consulates General in Greece, we got clearer information on what was requested."
Papastergiou pointed out that the Greek people collected aid materials such as blankets, sleeping bags, tents and food, and said that all these materials were sent to Türkiye after being categorized in Greece to avoid difficulties for the teams in Türkiye.
Greek children also sent their toys to earthquake victims
Papastergiu stated that he also came across toys among the aid material and said, "I saw items that Greek families, Greek children probably thought, 'It would be good if this also went to Türkiye'. I think this shows the essence of the work. It shows how children want to make children who have lost their homes, maybe their parents, happy in Türkiye. This is the most important thing."
"It was worth the effort of the municipalities"
KEDE President Papastergiu said of the feeling when the first aid truck was loaded onto the ship, "It was one of those moments when I said it was worth the effort. We collected material from all over Greece. The effort made by the municipalities was worth it, because this love went into containers, into boxes, was loaded and went to Türkiye."
Rapprochement in bilateral relations after the earthquake
Referring to the positive atmosphere that emerged between Türkiye and Greece after the earthquake disaster, Papastergiou said, "Why should we fight? We should not need pain and loss to realize that there is nothing that separates us."
Papastergiou said that the message he received from Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu when the first truck was loaded on the ship, as well as the letter sent by the Union of Municipalities of Türkiye (UMT) and Gaziantep Metropolitan Mayor Fatma Şahin, touched him:
"I am sure that my Turkish colleagues are facing many problems right now. But despite all these problems, they found time to write us a warm letter, warm words for this initiative of the Greek people and Greek municipalities."
Papastergiou pointed out the importance of the two countries focusing on issues such as health, education and the fight against earthquakes and said, "We are all human beings. God wanted us to live here. We should see this and realize that different things are important."
Papastergiou stated that the earthquake disaster in Türkiye caused Greece to review its plans to combat earthquakes and to check the earthquake resistance of buildings such as schools and hospitals, and said about the perspective of cooperation with municipalities in Türkiye for earthquake preparedness: "It would be a happiness for us to sit with the President of the Union of Municipalities of Turkey and look at 'What we did was successful' or 'What Türkiye did the next day was successful', to save time, to join forces and move forward together. This is what is meaningful. Investing in what is really valuable."
TBB President Şahin thanked
Şahin had thanked Papastergiou in a letter for his assistance to earthquake victims in Türkiye.
In the letter shared on KEDE's website, Fatma Şahin emphasized that Greek search and rescue teams were among the first to rush to the rescue of those trapped under the rubble during the earthquake disaster in Türkiye on February 6.
Expressing her satisfaction with the messages of solidarity received from her colleagues in Greece, Şahin wrote: "It was extremely gratifying to hear that KEDE, with the support of the Greek people, organized a solidarity campaign among its members."
Confirming that all the aid sent from Greece had arrived at the Port of Iskenderun, Şahin also conveyed messages of condolences for the train accident in Greece on the night of February 28, in which 57 people lost their lives.