Mine fire one of Turkey's greatest disasters: Minister

Turkish people suffering

Turkish people suffering "great sorrow" says Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu

STOCKHOLM - The mine disaster in western Turkey, in which more than 240 people have died, has been declared one of the greatest disasters in Turkish history by Mevlut Cavusoglu, the country's Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator.

Speaking at the Global Forum on Migration and Development in the Swedish capital of Stockholm on Wednesday, Cavusoglu said that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, along with other UN officials, had all expressed their condolences to the families of the victims of the disaster in the district of Soma on Tuesday. 

Cavusoglu described the "great sorrow" that the Turkish people were suffering and said it would be expressed over three days of national mourning that were declared earlier on Wednesday.

Turkey’s Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı also expressed his condolences.

“I believe that we can overcome this unique and terrible loss of life in the mining disaster with our behavior of unity and solidarity.  We pray to Allah to rest the souls of the departed in eternal peace, and grant courage to the bereaved families to bear this irreparable loss with patience and fortitude,” he said.

An electrical fault is suspected of causing an explosion and fire in the mine in Manisa province on Tuesday afternoon, leading to the deaths of more than 240 miners out of 787 who worked at the mine, which was privatized in 2005 and is run by Soma Holding.

- Immigration 'inevitable'

On a separate issue, Cavusoglu told the forum in Stockholm that Turkey - which takes over chairmanship of the body from Sweden on 1 July for one-and-a-half years - would cooperate on immigration with global organizations in addition to regional countries and NGOs.

"We stressed (at the forum) that immigrants are not the enemies of a society or country where they have migrated, and that they contribute a lot both to the countries they migrate to and to the transit countries," Cavusoglu told The Anadolu Agency.

"Immigration is inevitable," he said. "The focus has to be on how controlled immigration can be achieved and what kind of policies can be determined for integration." 

He added that Europe faced the risk of having an "old-age population" while Turkey had a young population. 

"We witness that many Turkish people living abroad are now thinking of coming back to Turkey because of the reforms and policies in the last 10 years which have boomed the economy and strengthened the social structure. Europe, on the other hand, faces economic recession. There are people coming from various countries, even from EU countries, to work in Turkey," Cavusoglu said.

Currently chaired by Mrs. Eva Akerman Borje, Ambassador, Government Offices of Sweden, the forum brings together expertise from all regions and countries at all stages of economic, social and political development to advance understanding and cooperation on the mutually reinforcing relationship between migration and development and to foster practical and action-oriented outcomes.

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