Germany likely to rescind Ilısu support .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;} BERLIN - The German government is withdrawing its financial support for the controversial Ilısu Dam project, German daily Frankfurter Rundschau reported over the weekend.

The Ilısu Dam in the southern province of Batman is part of Turkey’s Southeastern Anatolia Project, or GAP, which aims to build a series of dams to exploit the agricultural potential of the region and provide much-needed electricity to the country.

The Ilısu project is particularly controversial because once built, it will flood a wide region that includes the ancient town of Hasankeyf and force the resettlement of 65,000 people. European and local environmentalists have been campaigning for an end to the dam’s construction.

Austria, Germany and Switzerland, the original financiers of the dam, have asked Turkey to address the environmental and cultural concerns raised by critics of the project.

The German daily, citing unnamed sources close to the federal government, said all relevant departments in the German government had agreed to withdraw support for the dam.

Credit agencies from the three European countries had agreed to provide financial support for the dam project, but then suspended funding until Turkey fulfilled 153 criteria, including conducting research into the biological diversity of the region and reaching an expropriation agreement with the people who would be removed from the area. The criteria were supposed to be fulfilled by Dec. 2008.

When that deadline arrived, the credit agencies suspended financing, saying Turkey had not fulfilled the criteria, and gave the country a 180-day extension until July 6.

Official announcement soon

According to the daily, the German government will officially announce its decision when the extension period ends.

More than 20 cultures have made their home in Hasankeyf, which was listed by the monthly Smithsonian magazine as one of the 15 Must-See Endangered Cultural Treasures of the World in its April issue. The city was of significant commercial importance in the Middle Ages.

Despite the threat to Hasankeyf and the withdrawal of credits, the Turkish government is determined to proceed with the construction of the dam, Forestry and Environment Minister Veysel Eroğlu said last Wednesday. Eroğlu said foundations for the new Hasankeyf would be laid July 20. The government has announced that the ancient city will be moved to another location to save it from the flood.