World, Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Turkey, Germany, France, Britain hold teleconference

4 countries discuss possible joint coronavirus measures, as well as other developments

Sefa Mutlu   | 17.03.2020
Turkey, Germany, France, Britain hold teleconference


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday held a teleconference with leaders of France, Germany and Britain.

The quartet summit with attendance of French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Borris Johnson discussed possible joint measures against the global coronavirus outbreak.

“We found opportunity to extensively evaluate many topics ranging from fight against coronavirus and the humanitarian situation in [Syria’s] Idlib, to solutions to Syria crisis, matter of asylum seekers and Turkey-EU relations at the summit,” Erdogan said on Twitter following the summit.

"In this difficult process that we pass through at the regional and global level, we will operate diplomacy and cooperation mechanisms more actively, and we will resolutely continue our efforts to resolve problems as soon as possible,” he added.

The summit was previously planned to be held in Istanbul, but was held via video conference as part of measures taken to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

The virus emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and has since spread to at least 150 countries and territories. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.

Out of over 190,000 confirmed cases, the death toll now exceeds 7,500, while more than 80,800 have recovered, according to Worldometer, a website that compiles new case numbers.

Turkey currently has 47 confirmed cases, most of which were contracted through foreign visits to the U.S., EU, or Saudi Arabia. To date there have been no deaths.

Last month, Turkey opened its borders for asylum seekers seeking a way to Europe, accusing the EU of failing to keep promises under the 2016 migrant deal.

Ankara also warned that due to incessant attacks on civilians in Idlib, Syria, a million refugees were moving toward Turkey’s borders.

With 3.7 million Syrian migrants in Turkey already, more than any other country in the world, Ankara says it cannot absorb another refugee wave.

*Writing by Seda Sevencan

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