Ambassador Lazaris: "Turks see the Greek flag on the street and applaud"

Greek flag

Greek Ambassador to Ankara, Christodoulos Lazaris, said that when Turks see the Greek flag on the street they start applauding it to show appreciation for the heroic efforts made by Greek rescuers.

"Clearly, there is a relaxation in the tensions that we had before. In terms of world events, it doesn't surprise me. There was always a good mood at the public level," said the Ambassador of Greece when speaking to ERT.

"Clearly, the current Turkish government gladly accepts our help as well, and thus it is understood that it maintains a more relaxed position. Now if they will keep this in time, it will be seen," the ambassador continued.

He added that "we have not changed our attitude, we have always been... if you like, we have maintained a rational attitude towards Turkey. The question is whether Turkey will also want to adjust its attitude to what is obvious: that we are a country that always lends a helping hand whenever needed."

"I will tell you that the Press Office of the Embassy and only in the tweets that we have put out from time to time regarding our support to the affected populations, we collect within 24 hours up to 40,000 likes. That says something.

"In addition to this, you can also see it on the road that stops at the traffic lights, people see the Greek flag on the car, start clapping, etc. All this is very human. They are very good.

"We hope that the leaders here will capitalise on this desire of the people to have a rapprochement with our country and move forward on this path. Turkey has only won from such an attitude."

Delegation of the Patriarchate in Antioch

Asked about the mission of the Patriarchate in the region of Antioch , Mr. Lazaris noted that "There is a large mission of the Patriarchate that has been in contact with the local community. These people are Greek Orthodox of Syrian origin, they are not Greek citizens, let's be clear about that.

"The Patriarchate is already doing a very good job in the region, supporting these populations, not only spiritually[…]

"In terms of assistance and rescue operations, we must say that at least our group does not distinguish between Christians, Muslims or anyone. Whoever we find in front of us we try and save.

"Beyond that, of course, the problem is not the people, the problem is the conditions that have been created, this vast field of ruins[…] and of course the rest of the conditions, unfortunately extremely negative, mainly in terms of climatic conditions.

"The goal now is for aid to reach the affected quickly. As already said, Greece has launched an airlift with the aim of sending 120 tons of pharmaceutical material.

"The first aircraft landed yesterday evening with Mr. Stylianides, carrying the relevant aid. These flights are continuing, we don't know if they will even be extended because the planning being done is in continuous development".

Meanwhile, the death toll from the earthquake is likely to “more than double”, according to a UN emergency relief coordinator.

Speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News in Adana in Turkey, Martin Griffiths said he expected tens of thousands more deaths.

At least 24,596 people have been confirmed dead after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on Monday, with multiple aftershocks.

He said: “I think it is difficult to estimate precisely as we need to get under the rubble but I’m sure it will double or more,” said Griffiths.

“That’s terrifying. This is nature striking back in a really harsh way.

“It’s deeply shocking … the idea that these mountains of rubble still hold people, some of them still alive.

“We haven’t really begun to count the number of dead.”

He said that a 72-hour period after a disaster was usually the “golden period” for rescues, which has since expired, but that survivors were still being pulled out of the rubble.

“It must be incredibly difficult to decide when to stop this rescue phase,” he said.

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