The Oympinar Dam in Turkey shows off one of the country’s precious natural resources: water. Image via nifortescue
Turkey is trying to become “the world’s most environmentally friendly country” in order to up its chances on joining the European Union. Despite its increasing “Islamization” and friendly overtones towards less than conservative countries like Syria and Iran, this Asia Minor nation is currently undertaking a number of programs dealing with fresh water conservation and production, better treatment of solid and liquid wastes, and fighting pollution in lakes and rivers, as well as in the air. A number of Green Prophets have travelled to Turkey and know that its natural wonders are something to behold, and that Turkey has a great number of natural resources, including an envious supply of freshwater.
Now, the Turkish English news site, Today’s Zaman reports that Turkey hopes to receive between Euro 10 and 15 billion from the EU as part of an estimated Euro 59 billion program for environmental projects, of which 34 billion Euros will be used for water conservation projects alone. These water improvement projects will include recycling of waste water and cleaning up of industrial pollution – a project that in itself is expected to cost at least 15 billion Euros.
By undertaking these projects, especially those dealing with water resources, the country will be eligible to receive the EU funding, according to Turkey’s Environment and Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu.
Turkey environmental issues, especially those dealing with water resources, have been mentioned in several past Green Prophet postings, including those dealing with the drying up of reservoirs and other waterways, and the damming by Turkey of the Euphrates and other rivers, which prevents water being supplied to other thirstier countries, including Syria and Iraq.
In an interview with Today’s Zaman Eroglu noted that a number of fresh water projects have been launched, as well as increasing the number of solid waste treatment plants in the country from 15 to 54. He also noted steps being taken to deal with prevention of marine pollution:
“We currently have 300 blue flag and sea pollution measurement stations established across the country. Hence, the opening of the environment chapter is important for us. We are ready to become the world’s most environmentally friendly country.”
Not only is water a big issue in Turkey, but also forests and brush lands are being depleted, as Turkey’s major cities, especially Istanbul, have been flooded by people from rural areas. How environmentally friendly this country of more than 71 million may be trying to be, there are still a lot of issues that need to be dealt with in order for the country to be able to play its “environmental card” to help qualify it for EU membership.
Industrial and private pollution, especially in the country’s larger cities, has been seen a significant increase as the country becomes more industrialized.
The water issue is also a serious problem, especially for a country that used to be considered as a major supplier of freshwater, and one which has used its natural parks and other resources to attract tourism from abroad. Despite its dwindling water resources, Turkey still tries to promote itself as having abundant natural resources; and tourism ads on various international media sites still attest to this. Environmental problems connected to climate change are also beginning to affect many locations in Turkey, including areas flooded recently by freak torrential rain storms, causing flash floods.
All of these environmental issues indicate that Turkey still a way to go before it can consider itself to be “the world’s most environmentally friendly country” as Mr. Eroglu is trying to say.
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