Getting ready to set an example for vaccination, with doses due in Turkey soon, the president on Friday urged the public to join him in showing willingness to get vaccinated for coronavirus.

“I already announced that I would be vaccinated following a Friday prayer at the Hagia Sophia Mosque. I urged the public to [also] show sensitivity [on this issue],” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters following Friday prayers in the metropolis of Istanbul.

Officials earlier said the first shipments of Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines are set to be shipped on Sunday, with millions of doses due in the early months of 2021.

Erdogan also underlined that the holding of New Year’s parties in hotels or villas will not be tolerated due to the pandemic and that authorities will enforce the law on this matter.

As vaccinations are not being made mandatory in Turkey, officials are encouraging the public to get the shots to ensure that as much of the country as possible is protected from the pandemic.

As of Thursday, Turkey registered a total of 19,115 deaths from COVID-19, while over 1.93 million people have recovered from the disease. There have been over 2.1 million confirmed cases in the country.

Russia and Israel

On Turkish-Russian relations, Erdogan stressed that growing ties between the two countries have gone hand in hand with a healthy trade volume.

“I hope that our relations continue on the same path they have taken up to now,” he said.

Asked about reports of contacts between Turkey and Israel, he said that the countries’ ties on intelligence matters never ceased, but added: “We have some problems with the people at the top.”

Turkey has been at odds with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – now facing fresh elections in March – over several issues, including Israel’s attitude towards Palestinian lands.

“This is the point where we differ from Israel as part of both our approach to justice and countries’ territorial integrity. Otherwise, our heart desires that we could improve our relations with them,” he added.

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