As we freeze in Switzerland and vegetables rot in the wet ground, Turkey and Greece are experiencing a historic heat wave. The biggest problem is forest and bush fires. In the south of Turkey, near hotel complexes caught fire, and in the southwest it is threatened by the presence of a coal-fired power plant. Journalist Julia Han says the situation is partly catastrophic.
journalist Julia Han Reports as a reporter for Deutsche Welle from Turkey. She has been living in Istanbul since 2018.
SRF News: What did you see?
Julia Han: We have been in the Side/Manavgat district a few kilometers east of Antalya for a few days now. Here the worst fires in Turkey rage. Authorities say most of the fires are under control, but new fires are breaking out every day. If you travel by car, you will see many burning fires, smaller fires, and larger fires. Sometimes there are horrific scenes – especially at night.
People have lost their homes, their animals, their crops – they have nothing left.
Many villages in the area were completely burned, people lost their homes, animals and crops in the fields with nothing left. According to estimates, at least 100,000 hectares of forest have already been burned here in southern Turkey – that’s 1,000 square kilometers. The damage to nature is enormous, all that remains are charred tree trunks. No one knows if people and nature will ever recover from this crisis.
Turkey relies on help from abroad: Russia, Spain, Croatia and Ukraine have sent firefighting planes. Does President Erdogan see a mistake in the fact that he does not have a single firefighting plane of his own?
Admitting mistakes is not part of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political repertoire. He was in the disaster zone and refused any criticism of his government’s crisis management. In fact, many Turks are angry and accuse the government of not preparing at all for the fires.
Erdogan rejects any criticism.
People also complain that the government has already aborted the firefighting infrastructure in recent years. We know that southern Turkey is highly affected by forest fires. Despite having 15 firefighting planes from abroad and 5,000 emergency services on the ground, many fear this may not be enough to tackle the fires.
Fires and heat in Greece too
Most of the fires around Athens were contained Wednesday noon, reporter Corina Jessen reported. But the devastation is massive and catastrophic.” However, dozens of fires are still burning across the country. Greece has not yet depended on help from abroad. In addition to firefighters, soldiers and police officers are also used to fight fires. So far, there have been no Virtually no problems with nationwide power supplies. This is needed in light of temperatures reaching more than 45 degrees in the shade and hundreds of thousands of air conditioning systems running constantly: “On Tuesday, the highest electricity consumption ever measured across the country Jason said.
Have forest fires taken on a political dimension?
Yes really. Criticism comes, for example, from the opposition Republican People’s Party, which accuses Erdogan of irresponsibility. There are also a lot of angry posts on social media, with some people even calling for Erdogan’s resignation under the hashtag. For its part, the government is trying to overcome the crisis and suppress criticism as much as possible.
Does this also affect your work as a journalist?
Our team of foreign journalists has so far been able to write relatively freely from the crisis zone. But it appears that the Turkish media received instructions from the National Broadcasting Supervisory Authority. They have been warned not to send negative reports as it could lead to an “atmosphere of chaos” and reduce the motivation of emergency services. Those who do not adhere to it can expect severe penalties.
The media warned against negative reports about the fires.
This is seen here as a clear attempt by the censors: the government tries to prevent reporting on the actual extent of the crisis and instead demands reports on its coping with the crisis.
The interview was conducted by Ivana Pribakovich.
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