A member of the European Parliament on Wednesday praised Turkey for providing immediate medical supplies to coronavirus-hit EU.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ryszard Czarnecki, an MEP and former vice president of the European Parliament, said the EP appreciates the generosity of the Turkish people.

“Turkey has exhibited a significant example of solidarity with the EU by providing immediate medical supplies for the global fight against the coronavirus,” Czarnecki told Anadolu Agency.

“This approach demonstrates that Turkey is a reliable partner and ally even in tough times,” he added.

Czarnecki said the pandemic probably will affect how the EU will deal with Turkey as the outbreak has already been changing the priorities of governments.

Calling himself “a friend of Turkey,” Czarnecki said he and his colleagues are interested in setting up an EU-Turkey friendship group in the EP when it returns to its normal work routine.

“Our aim is to enhance the existing relationship between the EU and Turkey in economic, political and cultural fields,” he added.

Speaking on the Europe Day celebrated on May 9, Czarnecki said Turkish President Erdogan’s message, stressing the ideas behind the Schuman Declaration – which in 1950 proposed the formation of a European Coal and Steel Community as the predecessor to the EU – was “interesting.”

The Western countries were able to leave aside the hostility and differences in the 1950s, he said, noting his country Poland was under the control of the Soviets at the time, while is an EU member today. He added that he sees how important Turkey is for the EU.

“The issues that we have to deal with together are numerous,” he said, but added: “Whether it is instability in northern Africa, migratory pressures from the Middle East or now the new threat of viral pandemics, we need to work together.”

Many people in the EU are disappointed by the health systems, Czarnecki said, noting that the EU should get ready for a similar pandemic in the future.

“In the EU but I assume also in Turkey public health services will be subsidized more than ever before,” he said.

Czarnecki also stressed the private sector in Turkey could provide more protective equipment and medical supplies, adding: “In this context it might be useful to look again at the modernization of the Customs Union between the EU and Turkey.”

* Writing by Iclal Turan in Ankara.

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