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Water is a strategic natural resource of vital importance to all nations. As such it has been the cause of several international disputes. For Turkey especially, water is crucial to social and economic development. Turkey’s current national water regime that emphasises water resources development and management for productive uses, however, faces growing environmental concerns and international criticism regarding transboundary water cooperation. Furthermore, EU accession requires Turkey to adopt an extensive and ambitious body of EU water law. To understand Turkey’s position to international water law, the national policies and socio-economic circumstances that impact water resources management need to be considered. This book fills the existing knowledge gap through a broad perspective and analysis of the current state of Turkey’s water policy and its management of both national and transboundary waters. It is a unique undertaking that brings together Turkish and international authors, practitioners and academics, covering all aspects of water management



National Framework


Turkey’s Water Policy Framework

Turkey’s water policy and management is a feature of various laws and regulations, and is subject to a range of national ministries and executive administrations. Some of the legislation governing water management dates back to the early years of the Republic. Due to numerous amendments and additions to the existing legislation in the course of time, water management in Turkey ceased to be simple.
Aysegul Kibaroglu, Argun Baskan

Strategic Role of Water Resources for Turkey

Turkey’s water policy can best be characterised by her desire to gain independence from imported energy sources, to increase production levels of agriculture and to achieve food security, to satisfy increasing water demand from industry and urban and rural populations, and to correct regional economic and social imbalances in the country, thus raising the living standard of the population (Kibaroglu et al. 2005). The inclusion of such social aims led to water resources planning and development being carried out by government agencies through public investment (Kibaroglu et al. 2009).
Sahnaz Tigrek, Aysegul Kibaroglu

Challenges for Turkey to Implement the EU Water Framework Directive

The European Union’s (EU) Water Framework Directive (WFD) has been designed to be the centrepiece of legislation for the management of European waters. It was finally adopted in 2000 following a series of lengthy negotiations among the parties involved. It is accepted as the “constitution” of water-related legislation in the European Union (Cicek 2010). According to Estevan and Naredo (2004), the WFD demands a fundamental change in the way water resources planning and management is understood. It is even regarded as “the most ambitious and complex piece of legislation on environment ever enacted in the EU” (Garrido and Llamas 2009, 175). It aims to harmonize and streamline existing water legislation throughout the EU in order to achieve a “good water status” of all EU waters by 2015, at the latest.
Vakur Sumer, Cagri Muluk

Water for Energy: Hydropower is Vital for Turkey

The Turkish economy recorded a significant growth in its gross national product (GNP), with the annual growth rate reaching 8.2 percent in 2008. Parallel with economic development, energy demand in Turkey has increased significantly over the past decades. Today already, Turkey’s domestic energy resources are not sufficient to meet increasing demand and the country is highly dependent on energy imports to such an extent that in 2008 the imported energy rate reached 76 percent (MENR 2009). Society faces possible energy shortages and even power cuts if necessary measures and investments are not considered and implemented in due time. Since the increase in energy consumption is parallel to the increase in the GNP, this further emphasizes the key role of energy for Turkey’s economic development. The socio-economic development of Turkey, therefore, urgently requires the exploitation of additional energy resources.
Zekai Sen

Liberalization of Turkey’s Hydroelectricity Sector

The 1980s which were dominated by the liberal policies of then Prime Minister Turgut Ozal brought dramatic changes in the political and economic thinking in Turkey. Liberalization and deregulation of the national energy sector with its subsectors including hydroelectricity production marked a clear departure from the mentality of the earlier decades which was characterised and dominated by public investments, with a growing tendency especially in the 1970s, when large dams were constructed without the participation of the private sector (Tutus 2006, 318-320). Neoliberal policies and globalization starting in the 1980s have clearly influenced the liberalization of the electricity market and macroeconomic policies in Turkey. Privatization of the electricity markets was on the agenda of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) talks in this period. In addition, Turkey’s relations with the World Bank has shaped the neoliberal thinking of the Turkish governments for more than two decades,1 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has contributed further towards this economic mentality. The European Union’s (EU) impact was less direct. However, the Renewable Energy Law of 2005 is a genuine example of how the EU’s environmental policy influenced national energy planning and the liberalization of the hydroelectricity production sector, as the EU’s energy and environmental policy has been promoting the increase of the renewable sources in the national energy production profiles. The EU’s competition and trade policy principles are also accelerating the process of private sector involvement in the hydroelectricity business (Ozguler 2006).
Argun Baskan

Water for Agriculture: A Major and Inefficient Consumer

The history of irrigated agriculture in Turkey dates back to as early as 6000 BC. Throughout history, Anatolia, located on the crossroads of many civilizations, has played an important role as a trade bridge between western and eastern countries. From the beginning of the Turkish Republic the agricultural sector was crucial for the economic development of the country in terms of producing food and fibre, supplying raw material for industry, preventing migration from rural to urban areas, and creating employment. Because of the unreliable and erratic precipitation regime, Turkish agriculture depends heavily on irrigation, an exception being the Eastern Black Sea Region. Real advancements in irrigated agriculture in the country started therefore with the development of land and water resources projects 60 years ago. In 2008, irrigated areas covered about 5.3 million hectares, in 1950 it was only 0.15 million hectares.
Sevilay Topcu

Turkey’s Policy for Combating Water Pollution

Water is becoming scarce in most regions of Turkey not only due to growing demands and climate change but due to pollution stemming from point and non-point sources, which threatens water availability for agriculture, households and industry - which in turn are also the major polluters.
Gokhan Orhan, Waltina Scheumann

Environmental Impact Assessment in Turkish Dam Planning

By supplying water and generating hydroelectricity, dams play a prominent role in Turkey’s economic and social development. Hydroelectric energy generation, for instance, enjoys high priority in the domestic energy mix, and it factors as one of the core elements in Turkey’s climate mitigation strategy because it compares favourably with fossil energies in terms of carbon emissions. As the General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSI) reasons: “(…) hydroelectric power is environment-friendly, clean, renewable, able to meet peak demands, highly efficient (over 90 percent), involves no fuel cost, is a balancer of energy prices, has a long life-span (200 years), its cost recovery is short-run (5-10 years) its operational costs are low (approximately 0.2 cent/kWh), and it is an indigenous source of energy which is (…) natural.”.
Waltina Scheumann, Vera Baumann, Anna Lena Mueller, Dennis Mutschler, Sylvia Steiner, Thomas Walenta

NGOs Promote Integrated River Basin Management in Turkey: A Case-Study of the Konya Closed Basin

The global freshwater crisis has been on the agenda of the international community for the past 30 years: rapidly increasing water demands due to population growth and economic development have to be met with limited resources that are further compromised by over use and pollution. The water crisis has forced people to develop new approaches for water resources management that could accommodate the ensuing conflicts between economic and environmental concerns.
Buket Bahar Divrak, Filiz Demirayak

International cooperation on Turkey’s transboundary rivers

The Water Dimension in Turkish Foreign Policy

Much more so than in earlier times, water today constitutes a central concern of international politics. There is a general perception that humanity, as it develops both numerically and economically, is consuming the global water resources exhaustively. Soon the world is expected to reach a stage where there will not be enough water to meet all human needs. Countries will then fight for water to meet the needs of their population at the expense of others. It is not surprising that such anticipations of inter-state conflict are strongest in regions that are not blessed with large amounts of water. Frequent references to ‘water wars’ both in the world and in the Middle East are but one indicator of this phenomenon.
Ilter Turan

Turkey’s Water Diplomacy: A Theoretical Discussion

The term ‘water diplomacy’ connotes explicit and purposeful communication between representatives of different states charged with negotiating a resolution to contentious issues related to the mutual use of common rivers. In fact, though, communication is seldom confined to the formal exchange of official views, as these issues often encourage harder forms of bargaining. As the entrenchment of opposing legal positions tends to prevail at the formal diplomatic level, states are inclined to employ more tacit exercises of influence using means ranging from positive inducements to coercion.
Paul A. Williams

Turkey’s Position towards International Water Law

Turkey’s position towards transboundary water cooperation is widely perceived as being reluctant. This view mainly originates from disputes that arose over the Euphrates and Tigris rivers between Turkey, being the upstream country, and the downstream riparians, Syria and Iraq. In addition, Turkey’s vote against the 1997 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses (UN Watercourses Convention) as well as Turkey’s refusal to discuss transboundary water issues within the context of the 2002 Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Economic Forum explains the view of Turkey’s critics.
Annika Kramer, Aysegul Kibaroglu

Meric River Basin: Transboundary Water Cooperation at the Border between the EU and Turkey

The Meric basin, one of the major river systems of the eastern Balkans, is shared by Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. Water needs for irrigation and flood control are the main disputed issues in the basin, particularly between Turkey and Bulgaria. In the past, political distrust between the three countries hampered co-operation. However, recent rapprochement between Turkey and Greece, Bulgaria’s joining of the European Union (EU) and the prospect of EU membership for Turkey are expected to have positive effects on transboundary water management.
Annika Kramer, Alina Schellig

Coruh River Basin: Hydropower Development and Transboundary Cooperation

The Coruh River is the longest river of the East Black Sea region and is of high economic importance for Turkey because of its largely undeveloped but economically exploitable hydropower potential. However, the operating and planned dams could also cause environmental damage in Turkey and downstream Georgia, in particular on the Black Sea coast in the Adjaria province.
Axel Klaphake, Waltina Scheumann

Kura-Aras River Basin: Burgeoning Transboundary Water Issues

The development of water cooperation between the basin countries of the Kura-Aras river basin is attracting increasing political attention. Because of the complicated and partly unstable political relations between the riparian states, and the enormous water quantity and quality problems within the basin, the Kura-Aras basin was referred to as a “basin at risk” (Wolf et al. 2003) in some scientific studies. According to these studies, massive conflicts over water resources could occur in the years to come. However, the role of Turkey as an upstream country still appears understudied and barely considered.
Axel Klaphake, Annika Kramer

Euphrates-Tigris Rivers System: Political Rapprochement and Transboundary Water Cooperation

Water-related development projects on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers have been highly contested over the last four decades and have caused relations between the riparian states, i.e. Turkey, Syria and Iraq, to become highly strained and serious crises occurred. All co-riparian states are unilaterally strengthening their efforts to develop water resources to increase their hydropower potential, and to extend their irrigated agricultural areas. These activities pose the main threat to their mutual relations, and to date, the riparians have failed to achieve a common agreement. Since major non-water issues are now solved, or are at least approached, in a more pragmatic manner, the prospects for joint initiatives have improved. Figure 1 shows a map of the two rivers, their main tributaries and selected dams. Table 1 and Table 2 provide an overview of the context for cooperation on both rivers.
Aysegul Kibaroglu, Waltina Scheumann

Orontes River Basin: Downstream Challenges and Prospects for Cooperation

The Middle East is one of the most water scarce regions of the world. This is why water issues have - among other factors - influenced the countries’ relationship. Turkey, which is considered a relatively water-abundant country if compared with her southern neighbours, had not considered water as a major foreign policy issue until the 1960s. Following Turkey’s initiation of water development projects on the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers in mid-1970s and during the 1980s, transboundary water issues emerged as a Turkish foreign policy concern, particularly in her relations with Syria.
Waltina Scheumann, Ilhan Sagsen, Ece Tereci

Cooperation on Turkey’s Transboundary Waters: Analysis and Recommendations

In Part II, we tried to analyze and assess the status of cooperation on Turkey’s transboundary rivers. While the politics of transboundary water resources in the Euphrates and Tigris river basin have already been extensively discussed in international literature, other transboundary river basins, such as the Orontes, Kura-Aras, Coruh or Meric have, in general, received far less political and scientific attention. Hence, the chapters are intended to provide a thorough assessment of crucial water management challenges on major Turkish transboundary rivers, the current state of cooperation and unresolved disputes.
Aysegul Kibaroglu, Axel Klaphake, Annika Kramer, Waltina Scheumann


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