Turkey's Dam Plans Make New Problems With Neighbors

The Kura (Mtkvari) River meets with the Aragvi in Georgia.

Turkey's aggressive dam-building plans, already the subject of Iraqi and Syrian ire, now risk opening up a fresh diplomatic dispute with the country's northeastern neighbor.

Construction of a planned dam on the Kura (Mtkvari) River in the Turkish province of Ardahan would redirect much of the river's water from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, leading to "an ecological and economic catastrophe" in Georgia, officials from the Georgian Green Party are cited as claiming in a recent article by the Georgian publication Democracy & Freedom Watch.

Pollution Risk In Key Waterway
The largest waterway in the South Caucasus, the Kura River is important to both Georgia and Azerbaijan. Georgian critics of Turkey's dam plans say reducing the water level in the river could hamper its ability to dilute and flush sewage from major cities in the region.

The United Nations has previously criticized Turkey for the effect of its dams on desert and marshland communities in Iraq and Syria, notes the Mideast environmental website Green Prophet, which tipped us off to the latest development.

Dams Spark Domestic, International Strife
A Baghdad government spokesman said last year that Turkey's restriction of water flows to Iraq was "unacceptable" and could hinder further cooperation between the neighboring countries.

In addition to complicating Turkey's already-troubled goal of "zero problems with neighbors," Turkey's dams have also prompted human-rights concerns domestically, as most of the affected populations belong "to vulnerable groups like the rural poor, nomads, Alevi or Kurds," according to last summer's U.N. report.

Turkey's Dam Plans Make New Problems With Neighbors
Fresh criticism from Georgian environmentalists adds to the diplomatic tensions created by Turkey's dam-building spree.

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