UPDATES WITH FURTHER REMARKS OF TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER, ADDS BACKGROUND; EDITS THROUGHOUT
By Ali Murat Alhas
ANKARA (AA) – Turkish foreign minister on Saturday said the government authorized the transfer of ventilators to Spain, and dismissed reports claiming that the Turkish administration sought to confiscate medical equipment amid COVID-19 outbreak.
“Confiscating [medical] products is an ugly accusation,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a live broadcast and added that the Spanish Foreign Ministry corrected reports as well.
Notably, in a Twitter post, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya confirmed Cavusoglu's remarks, and said Spain appreciated the "gesture of a friend and ally".
Cavusoglu said a total of 94 countries requested medical equipment and items from Turkey in a bid to battle the virus, and it was not possible to meet the needs of all as the country itself needed such equipment.
Exporting medical items are required to have the authorization of the Health Ministry, he said, adding that Turkey has so far dispatched medical items to 23 countries.
Turkish top diplomat accused some private medical companies of seeking to make more money, without giving names, and making agreements with different actors without informing relevant Turkish authorities.
“[Private companies] go and make contacts with some countries, they put the country [Turkey] in a difficult situation for the sake of earning money. This is not right,” he said.
“We have authorized [export of] 116 ventilators to Spain following the instructions of the Health Ministry, and they will be sent to Spain in the coming days,” he said, adding Turkey was an ally of Spain.
He further noted that Turkey has provided support recently, and the move was highly appreciated by the Spanish authorities.
COVID-19 has so far claimed 156 Turkish citizens living abroad, and Turkey repatriated tens of thousands of Turkish nationals as part of the government's protective approach towards its people, Cavusoglu added.
On Saturday, Turkey announced the country's death toll from coronavirus climbed to 501 following the demise of 76 individuals, whereas total confirmed cases surged to nearly 24,000.
After originating in China last December, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has spread to at least 181 countries and regions across the world, with its epicenter shifting to Europe.
The pandemic has killed nearly 64,000 people, and infected over 1.1 million, while over 244,000 people recovered from the disease so far, according to figures collated by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.