bdullah Gul has cancelled a reception planned to commemorate the founding of the Turkish Republic, citing the recent earthquake and the urgent need for crisis management in the disaster's wake Todayszaman reported
A statement released by the office of the president on Monday declared that the reception had been cancelled "while work continues to save any citizens found under the rubble and while our people continue to suffer deep grief."
Gul spoke to reporters about the ceremony's cancellation and the earthquake after a meeting with the Democratic Republic of the Congo's ambassador on Monday, telling the press that he was pleased by the showing of national solidarity in the wake of the disaster. Praising the outpouring of aid and condolences, Gül said that people from all corners of Turkey have given to the disaster as if they themselves had lost a loved one. "All of the citizens of Van, our brothers, will once again see that they are not alone," Gül stated, promising that the victims of the disaster would be "embraced from one side by the compassion of the government and from the other by the compassion of the entire nation."
The president also stated that the response to the earthquake reflects the hard lessons that Turkey has won from past disasters, stressing that wide-scale relief efforts began promptly in the wake of the most recent earthquake. Gül claimed that the response included "both official organizations and unofficial organizations. Everybody went [to the earthquake zone]. As you can see intense rescue work continues."
Gul also expressed his regrets about the tragic loss of life caused by the quake: "We hare hoping that the death toll does not rise much higher. Once again we offer our condolences to all of our citizens. May those who lost their lives rest in peace."