GeriGündem Turkish gov't reveals its long-awaited southeast development plan
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Turkish gov't reveals its long-awaited southeast development plan

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan unveiled the start of the government's long-awaited road map for the economic development of the terror-hit southeastern provinces on his visit to Diyarbakir on Tuesday. The road map, aimed at completing the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) by 2012, is expected to cost around 27 billion YTL ($20 billion). Erdogan termed the action plan to boost social and economic development in the country's southeast, "a turning point for Turkey". AKP Deputy PM Nazim Ekren will lead the project that will aim to fulfill four pillars, economic and social development, improved regional infrastructure and development of institutional capacity in all cities in the region, Erdogan said. (UPDATED)

"What we are announcing today is not a mere report or a project. It is a well-defined, scheduled and a funded action plan to remove regional differences in economic and social development, unemployment and migration," Erdogan told a meeting in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir.

The project will be a solution to the region's unemployment and will provide water to 1.8 million hectares (4.4 million acres) of farmland and 27 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, Erdogan said in his address.

It will increase the per capita income by 209 percent and provide employment for 3.8 million Turkish citizens, he added.

This project will remove the differences that exist between Turkey’s provinces and should be seen as a salvation project that will ease the situation in the region, it is a social restoration project that will improve the unity and integrity of the country, said Erdogan.      

The government will invest 14.55 billion YTL ($11.6 billion) from its budget between 2008 and 2012 in a long-awaited plan to improve infrastructure and irrigation in the rural region, and boost employment. Another 12.2 billion YTL will be spent from off-budget sources, a presentation showed.

The biggest fund --20 billion YTL, will be spent for the infrastructural works. The government will also spend 1.3 billion YTL for economic development and 5.1 billion YTL for social development.


Additional financing required for economic development is 1.1 billion YTL, for social development 2.7 billion YTL, and for development of infrastructure is 15.4 billion YTL.

The project is planned to be financed by privatization revenues, the unemployment insurance fund, and public and private sector joint projects. Some 16 billion YTL ($12 billion) of the total cost is expected to be financed by the central budget.  



"The project will start with Diyarbakir and Gaziantep that will become centers of attraction in the region in 2008," he added.

The GAP Action Plan is comprised of four main parts: Under the "economic development" part, there are sub-topics such as construction of attraction centers, incentive policies, support for small and medium sized enterprises, technoparks, culture- tourism, natural resources, renewable energy and agriculture.


Under the "social development" part, the sub-topics include: education, employment, health, social services and assistance, culture, art and sports.


Under the "development of infrastructure" part, irrigation, energy, transportation and social and physical infrastructure are the sub-topics.


The fourth part which is "development of institutional capacity" is comprised of expenses for local administrations and regional institutions.

"The enemy of terrorism is an environment of welfare and freedom. As welfare spreads and freedom is strengthened ... it is the terrorist organization which loses," said Erdogan, adding these new projects would heal the wounds that separatist terrorists have manipulated for years.

The government promise to inaugurate a special television channel to broadcast in Kurdish as well as Farsi and Arabic will soon materialize with the parliament currently debating a bill to that effect, he said.

The project promises to expand irrigation networks, build new dams and boost incentives and loans for entrepreneurs and farmers, he added.

Large swathes of land along the Syrian border will be demined and opened to organic farming, he said, vowing to build more hospitals, schools, boarding houses and universities.

"The solutions to the problems lie in more investment and production and in more democracy and freedom," Erdogan also said.

A group of Pro-Kurdish politicians boycotted Erdogan's speech to protest, saying the newest incentives did not go far enough.

GAP, which was introduced to develop water and soil resources in the 1970s and could not be completed due to the lack of irrigation channel investment, has turned into a regional development project.

Covering an area of 75,000 square kilometers (28958 square miles) in nine cities, the region features 10 percent of Turkey's population. The decision to revive GAP has pepped up investments in the region.

Turkey’s Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker told on Monday only 15 percent of the irrigation projects, and 77 percent of the energy projects of GAP had been completed and their aim is to complete 100 percent of the projects by 2012.  

The government aims to increase the wealth of the region five-fold, and create employment the half of region’s the population. In 2007 the per capita income in the Marmara region reached $14,500, while it is $4,500 in eastern Anatolia and $5,200 in southeast Anatolia.

The government's road map to complete the GAP came amid political jitters caused by the closure case against the Islamist-rooted ruling party. The AKP, whose support is high in the region, had said if it is closed voters in the region could be marginalized. 

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