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Government responds to Turkish dam critics

Switzerland is providing Turkey with an expert on population displacements, to advise Ankara on a controversial scheme to build a hydro-electric power station in the south-east of the country. Up to 15,000 people are likely to be moved as a result.

The Swiss economics ministry said on Monday it had employed Ayse Kudat, a specialist from the World Bank, to assist Turkey over the next two years.

The move follows criticism of the Swiss government for granting export risk guarantees to the Swiss companies involved in the Ilisu dam project, ABB and Sulzer Hydro. The guarantee covers exports to Turkey worth SFr470 million.

When the guarantee was granted last November, the government asked the economics ministry to initiate a dialogue with other countries and companies involved and the Turkish contractors, with the aim of establishing an independent monitoring of the necessary displacements.

The development aid organisation, Berne Declaration, has been particularly critical of the large-scale displacements expected to result from the construction of the dam.

Over 300 square kilometres of land will be flooded in the south-eastern province of Anatolia, a predominantly Kurdish region where guerillas have been fighting for autonomy since the mid-1980s.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR