The second challenge is to lead a strong, strategic and long-term campaign that also has international dimensions. This has not happened in our region concerning environmental or social issues. Due to the unsolved Kurdish question and conflict and the civil war in the 1990s, this was impossible. There was much suppression by Turkish security forces.
Another challenge is the general prejudices of many parts of Turkish society against the Kurdish people. That’s why the major Turkish press, Turkish organizations and Turkish artists do not support our campaign significantly. In the past two to three years, the Turkish press has written reasonably about the Ilisu project, but that is not enough to be successful against the Turkish government. However, since the Nature Organization (Doga Dernegi) started a campaign against the Ilisu Dam, the Turkish public has started paying more attention.
WRR: An Iraqi expert recently said the Ilisu Dam will dramatically reduce the Tigris River’s flow, depriving the city of Mosul of about half of its summer water supply. Can you talk about the impacts of the dam on Iraq?
EA: The Ilisu reservoir and other planned reservoirs will be able to store the entire annual flow of the Tigris from Turkey to Iraq. Iraq relies on water from the Tigris River for irrigation and for drinking supply for cities like Mosul and Baghdad.
International convention and law requires that Turkey consult with Syria and Iraq, negotiate and come to an agreement before implementing any large projects on the Tigris River. Such an agreement is still missing.
Turkey and Iraq are situated in a politically unstable region. Even in times of peace, allowing a state to wield power over water increases tensions between neighbouring countries.
Read the latest on European investors’ qualms about lending for Ilisu.