Suspended credits halt work on Ilısu .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - The German, Austrian and Swiss export credit agencies declared they have suspended financing of the Ilısu Dam project in southeastern Anatolia as Turkey has failed fulfill the criteria conditional to the release of credits, the Anatolia News Agency reported Tuesday

The credits have been suspended for 180 days. German Euler Hermes, Austrian Kontrolbank and Swiss Serve agencies also notified the construction firms in Turkey on Dec. 23, leading the firms to halt construction work.

Andritz Company, which is producing turbines and has a bid of 235 million euros for the project said they lamented the decision. "This reaction is exaggerated and gives the wrong signals to Turkey," said Wolfgang Leitner, the head of the administrative board of Andritz. "It is difficult to understand that export credit agencies put in danger the European firms’ bids, regarding the current economic situation," he said. The statute of the project will be re-evaluated after 180 days, the credit agencies stated.

The Hasankeyf ruins
Metin Münir, a columnist for daily Milliyet wrote yesterday that the State Waterworks Authority, or DSİ, was tired of pressure from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

The Ilısu Dam, with a planned power capacity of 1,200 megawatts (MW) to generate 3.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year, is part of a $32 billion plan to develop Turkey's economically underdeveloped southeast and east.

Environmentalists and historians say almost all of the famous ruins that attract tourists to Hasankeyf would be buried under a dam for the plant on the Dicle river, which originates in Turkey and flows into Iraq. Hasankeyf was used by the Romans as a fortress to ward off Persians. The town was later destroyed by the Mongols and rebuilt in the 11th century by Seljuk Turks.

According to plans, the ruins would be moved to a nearby area, yet the project would still swallow up more than 80 villages and hamlets once its due to be complete in 2013. Turkey is heavily dependent on gas imports for its electricity generation but is looking to boost its own electricity production with projects that also include a nuclear power station.