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EU leaders start summit with silence honoring earthquake victims

EU heads of state, government remember victims before starting discussions on Ukraine, migration

Agnes Szucs  | 09.02.2023 - Update : 09.02.2023
EU leaders start summit with silence honoring earthquake victims


The EU leaders honored on Thursday the victims of the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria with a minute of silence at the start of their summit.

“The extraordinary European Council has just started with a minute of silence for the victims of the earthquake that hit Türkiye and Syria,” Barend Leyts, the spokesperson of the institution’s president, Charles Michel announced on Twitter.

The 27 EU leaders also sent a joint letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressing their "deepest condolences for the devastating loss of life after the earthquake," according to information received by Anadolu.

"We are profoundly shocked and saddened by the dramatic consequences of this terrible disaster," the letter said.

"Our thoughts are with all the families who have lost loved ones and with all those who are still awaiting news," they added, wishing a "speedy recovery" to the injured and commending the ongoing work of rescuers.

The EU leaders also emphasized the bloc's "full solidarity with the people of Türkiye and Syria in the face of this tragedy."

"We stand ready to further step up our support in close coordination with the Turkish authorities," they said.

The EU summit's final conclusion also commemorated the earthquake, stating that the bloc had so far dispatched 1,600 rescue workers to Türkiye.

"The European Council reaffirms the Union's readiness to provide further assistance to alleviate the suffering in all affected regions," the document added.

On the way to the meeting, several EU leaders also expressed deep regret over the earthquake.

For his part, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda sent condolences “to the nation of Turkey from “the bottom of our hearts.”

He reassured that “Lithuania is ready to support the countries that suffered this terrible earthquake.”

Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas also expressed regret over the catastrophe, and explained that her country swiftly sent 45 rescue workers with equipment to Türkiye two days ago.

EU leaders are expected to discuss the bloc’s support for Ukraine, migration and economic affairs at their two-day summit.

At least 14,351 people were killed and 63,794 others injured after a strong earthquake hit southern Türkiye on Monday morning, according to the country's disaster agency.

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