Turkey Says Its Water Can Boost Middle East Peace

Jan. 17, 2000
ANKARA, TURKEY--Turkey said on Monday it wants to boost the Middle East peace process by selling fresh water to arid Israel and Jordan from its southern rivers."Turkey would be quite pleased to contribute to the (Middle East) peace process by offering its water potential," said Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Cumhur Ersumer.Ersumer was speaking during a promotional meeting to a Jordanian delegation led by Water and Irrigation Minister Kamel Mahadeen to introduce a $147 million plant to provide 500,000 cubic metres of fresh water daily.``The waters of the Manavgat river can be sold not only to Jordan but also to Israel, which has also showed serious interest in our offer," said Ersumer.Jordan can buy water to be shipped by tankers from the Manavgat water treatment plant, 80 km (50 miles) east of the southern resort city of Antalya, to Israel's Haifa port, then to be piped to Jordan, he said. Mahadeen said the Amman government would assess Turkey's offer, but did not say how much water Jordan could purchase from the Manavgat."Getting water from the Manavgat project is very important for us and it is one of the options Jordan has been thinking of for fresh water," he told the meeting.DECISION TIED TO PEACE PROCESSDogan Altinbilek, head of Turkey's State Waterworks Authority (DSI), said the plant could provide up to 250,000 cubic metres of purified and 250,000 cubic metres of unpurified water daily."But I think Jordan would like to get unpurified water as they have a purification unit in their country," he told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting.Israel will decide in April whether to buy Turkish water, Altinbilek said."I think they plan the timing of their decision in tandem with developments in the Middle East peace process," he said. Water to Israel could be shipped directly by tankers.Altinbilek said the Manavgat plant could supply water to Libya, Malta, Cyprus, Crete, and Turkey's commercial capital Istanbul, if requested.Turkey's other fresh water project, dubbed "Peace Water," also envisages supplying water to the Middle East from two southern rivers, the Seyhan and the Ceyhan."Work on that project is also going on. We can provide water from the two rivers to Israel and other nations in the region," Altinbilek said.Moslem Turkey has long been planning to supply fresh water to dry Middle Eastern countries in a move to boost its relations with Israel and Moslem nations in the region, saying water can be a means for an Arab-Israeli rapproachment.SOURCE: Reuters

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