Turkey blocks 200,000 face masks destined to Italy

Hundreds of thousands of face masks intended for Italy to help with the coronavirus emergency have been stuck since 3 March at Ankara airport. Turkey‘s government has decided that only the Minister of Health can allow the export of face masks to protect from coronavirus and this authorisation has not arrived yet, Corriere della Sera reports.

The Italian embassy in Ankara is working to solve the problem. Italian PM Giuseppe Conte also called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to unlock the situation but without any results. The face masks, which Italian company Comitec paid 670,000 euros to Turkish company Ege Mask, were aimed at the hospitals in Pesaro and Rimini, two cities severely hit by the virus. Comitec can not ask for a refund because the masks have been delivered but they are stuck in the customs zone of Ankara’s airport following the order of the Turkish authorities.

While blocking 200,000 masks for Italy, Turkey said it can produce around 50 million of face masks in seven days thanks to 30 companies, and could provide almost the entire Italian population with a face mask, the General manager of the Turkish producer Ege Mask said.

Therefore, producing the masks Turkey needs is not a problem for Ankara but its latest move can be seen as yet another message of defiance to Europe.

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