The following letter was sent to the Turkish Prime Minister by UK Member of the European Parliament Julie Ward:

“President Erdoğan,

I am writing to express my utmost concern regarding the announcement of the filling of the Ilisu Dam on June 10th, 2019.

As you know, filling this dam will have disastrous consequences for the downstream areas of the Tigris river, and in particular for Hasankeyf. The cultural heritage of this city is unmatched, spanning nine civilisations. For 12,000 years, it has been a site of uninterrupted human settlement. Dozens of cultures have left their mark on Hasankeyf.

As a cultural activist, and a Member of the Culture and Education Committee in the European Parliament, I am very concerned by reports stating that the filling of the dam would flood and destroy most of the city. The site of Hasankeyf is an international heritage site that should belong to humanity as a whole. The threat posed by the Ilisu Dam project prompted the World Monuments Fund to list the city on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world.

In 2001 the British contractor Balfour Beatty pulled out of the project because it failed to meet ethical, environmental and commercial criteria. Sadly the Turkish authorities have continued regardless.

As a human rights advocate, I am also worried about the social consequences the filling of the dam would have on adjacent communities. Reports state that 80,000 people risk losing their livelihoods if this project goes ahead.

Further downstream, communities in Syria and Iraq are also at risk of being affected by the dam. This project will seriously jeopardise the water supply to major Iraqi towns, affecting.

Iraqi agriculture and the biodiversity of the Tigris river ecosystem. Management of water supplies in the region should be inclusive and mindful of the impact on communities and their livelihoods.

I therefore urge you not to begin filling the Ilisu Dam on June 10th. I also urge you to put the project on hold, in order to engage in a broad, participative and transparent discussion with the local populations in the affected communities and the competent authorities in Syria and Iraq.

I look forward to your response and I remain available for any further information.

Yours sincerely,

Julie Ward MEP Member of the Committee on Culture & Education


H.E. Zeki Levent Gümrükçü Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the Kingdom of Belgium Rue Montoyer 4, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

H.E. Ümit Yalçın Ambassador of the Republic pf Turkey to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 43 Belgrave Square, Belgravia, London SW1X 8PA, United Kingdom

H.E. Christian Berger Head of EU Delegation in Ankara Büyükesat Mahallesi, Uğur Mumcu Cd. No:88, 06700 Çankaya/Ankara, Turkey

Letter to Erdogan – Filling of Isilu Dam