Action plan to boost Ankara-Baghdad cooperation on water issues

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 08.08.2019 00:33

The action plan on the issue of water between Turkey and Iraq proved that Ankara's political will to develop the two countries' cooperation regarding the issue of water is ready to be translated into concrete action.

In a written statement released by the Turkish Presidency, it was reminded that Turkey's Special Representative to Iraq Veysel Eroğlu met with Iraqi President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Adel Abd Al-Mahdi and Water Resources Minister Jamal Adili during his official visit to Baghdad on July 31.

In his meeting with Salih, Eroğlu stated that Turkey is ready to make all contributions for the stability and reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

"Regarding the issue of water resources, the Turkey-Iraq Cooperation Action Plan Regarding Water revealed that our political will to develop the two countries' cooperation regarding the issue of water is ready to be translated into concrete action in line with a road map defined," the statement added.

The Tigris and Euphrates and their tributaries form a major river system in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Originating in eastern Turkey, they flow through Syria and Iraq into the Persian Gulf.

Eroğlu arrived in Baghdad last week to discuss water management issues with Iraqi officials.

Earlier last month, Eroğlu said that Iraqi authorities want Turkey to handle several major water projects in the country.

This June, Turkey set up a working group of 51 experts to deal with Iraq's water issues.

Drought and low precipitation have been a significant problem in Iraq. Turkey depends on water from the Tigris to fill a reservoir behind its Ilısu Dam near the Iraqi border. Iraq has asked for a larger share of the river's flow amid shortages, particularly in the southern province of Basra.

In particular, the working group focuses on solving water problems in Basra to prevent diseases emanating from usage of unhealthy water. Also, improving modern irrigation infrastructure and increasing productivity will be priorities for the group. During the studies, it was revealed that 90% of Iraq's total water is used in irrigation, meaning wasting water remains a key problem. Turkey will share its own experience with Iraq on the issue.

The working group also plans to train Iraqi experts, engineers and technical personnel on waste management, wastewater treatment and hydrology as soon as possible.

Former Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Eroğlu was appointed as special envoy to Iraq by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the beginning of this year to resolve water-sharing issues between the two countries.

It was also stated that the programs for capacity enhancing and information and experience sharing to develop cooperation between the two countries will start at the end of this month in Turkey and continue until the end of this year.

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