Could ‘earthquake diplomacy’ help Turkey mend ties with its neighbours?


Will the deadly February 6 earthquakes – that have claimed tens of thousands of lives and made millions of others homeless – help heal historic wounds and produce a sustainable partnership between Turkey and its neighbours?

Take Greece for instance

Before the recent tremors, Turkey’s relations with Greece were almost on the verge of collapse. With both nations facing a looming general election, there were widespread fears that growing tensions in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean could worsen into a military confrontation.

However, everything changed after February 6. The Greek government deployed rescue professionals, doctors, and paramedics to the disaster zone, in addition to sending thousands of tents, beds, and blankets to help survivors.

While Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias visited the quake-ravaged Hatay province on February 12, private Greek citizens have also expressed their eagerness to support their neighbours, donating to charities and sharing messages of solidarity.

However, this dramatic improvement in relations following a humanitarian disaster isn’t something completely new. Turkey and Greece had successfully engaged in ‘earthquake diplomacy’ for the first time following a deadly quake in August 1999.

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Now consider Armenia

Following the latest quakes, the Armenian government kept aside its longstanding differences and disputes with Ankara and sent emergency supplies, including food, medicine, and drinking water, to devastated Turkish cities and towns. The aid crossed into Turkey through the land border which has been sealed since the early 1990s.

Armenian search and rescue personnel were also on the ground. Additionally, the country’s Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan paid a visit to Ankara on February 15 to discuss the ongoing efforts to normalise relations between the two countries.

Currently, there is no doubt that the earthquakes have offered Turkey a significantly better footing to improve its ties with its neighbours. But despite a humanitarian disaster bringing the neighbouring nations closer, the issues at the root of the problems are still unaddressed.



Sulaiman keeps an important eye on domestic and international politics while he has mastered history.

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