The European Union sent help to Turkey on Monday, and volunteers joined firefighters in battling a week of extreme fires that killed eight people and put pressure on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The wildfires ripping through the resort regions of Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts have destroyed vast swathes of pristine forest and forced the evacuation of panicked tourists from their hotels.
But they have also exposed Erdoğan — facing an election in two years that could extend his rule into a third decade — to a new round of criticism over his seemingly sluggish and out-of-touch response.
The Turkish leader came following extreme criticism over the weekend as they tossed tea bags to locals while touring one of the most badly affected regions under heavy police escort.
The government has also disclosed that it had no firefighting planes in its inventory and had to rely on foreign help to battle the flames.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu thanked Brussels on Monday for sending a plane from Croatia and two from Spain.
Greek authorities have said that Athens’ offer to help Turkey in tackling the fires in the country is still in place despite Turkey’s rejection.
According to Greek authorities, Ankara thanked Greece for its offer but went on to reject, the BBC’s Turkish service reported.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias last week called his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to offer condolences and express his country’s readiness in assisting Turkey in its fight against the forest fires that have engulfed the southern and western coasts.
“I expressed my sincere condolences over loss of lives caused by the wildfires, including in the Turkish FM’s home region of Antalya. I also expressed Greece’s readiness to provide assistance if requested,” Dendias also said in a Twitter statement.
Greece itself is also battling fires, with firefighters trying to contain a wildfire burning in the west of the country that destroyed houses and left 15 citizens in hospital with breathing problems, authorities said. Temperatures have been high in much of the country in recent days and are expected to reach 44 degrees Celsius on Aug. 2 and 3.