UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES FROM TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTRY, REMARKS FROM NATO SPOKESPERSON
By Orhan Onur Gemici, Hasan Esen
ANKARA (AA) – A Turkish military cargo plane carrying medical supplies to assist the U.K.’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic landed in London, the Turkish National Defense Ministry said on Friday.
"Our Turkish Armed Forces plane carrying medical supplies for the UK to help combat the COVID-19 virus has landed in London," said the ministry in a tweet.
The ministry announced the aid operation early Friday.
The supplies also carried a message for the people of the U.K. "After hopelessness, there is much hope and after darkness, there is the much brighter sun. Rumi."
Umit Yalcin, Turkey’s ambassador to London, said the supplies were handed over to British officials.
He added that Wendy Morton, minister for European neighborhoods and the Americas, called him to thank for the aid.
“Huge thanks to our friend and ally Turkey for its generous offer of vital personal protective equipment for UK medical workers on the frontline of tackling the Coronavirus,” said Dominic Chilcott, the British ambassador to Turkey, in a tweet.
– NATO’s RAM procedure used for first time
Turkey’s Defense Ministry said on Twitter NATO’s Rapid Air Mobility (RAM) procedure was used for the first time.
“A400M flight for transfer of medical aid supplies from Turkey to United Kingdom has been conducted in accordance with Rapid Air Mobility clearance mechanism used for the first time to facilitate transit through Europe’s airspace at the speed of relevance,” the ministry said.
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu quoted the ministry’s tweet and said: “1st use of NATO’s Rapid Air Mobility procedure, making it easier for Allies to move medical supplies by air as quickly as possible, by using a NATO call sign. Turkey used it today to bring COVIDー19 assistance to the UK.”
She also thanked all the allies of the NATO for their efforts: saying “A big thank you to all military personnel across the Alliance for their help in combating the #COVID19 outbreak. We are all in this together.”
The aid package includes protective masks and overalls.
On Wednesday, U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab thanked Turkey in a phone conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu for sending medical supplies to help the country deal with the coronavirus pandemic, according to diplomatic sources.
Raab said the move is an "indication of strong friendship between the two countries."
Turkey also sent medical aid to five Balkan countries including Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Kosovo on Wednesday, as well as to Italy and Spain — the countries in Europe worst-hit by the virus — last week.
After originating in Wuhan, China last December, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has spread to at least 185 countries and regions across the world.
The pandemic has killed over 100,000 people and infected over 1.65 million, while more than 368,000 people have recovered from the disease, according to figures compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University.
*Writing by Fahri Aksut and Havva Kara Aydin