New Hasankeyf settlement almost completed

New Hasankeyf settlement almost completed

BATMAN – Anadolu Agency
New Hasankeyf settlement almost completed

AA photo

Eighty percent of the new settlement of Hasankeyf, replacing the historical part of the town that is set to be submerged under the water of the controversial Ilısu Dam, has been completed. 

Works are ongoing for the new Hasankeyf settlement in the southeastern province of Batman, with many offices apart from the municipality and the District Gendarmerie Command having moved to the new settlement. 

Turkey’s fourth longest bridge, a tourism facility, a 25-bed state hospital, the district governorate building and other social, cultural and sports areas are among the facilities being built in the new settlement. 

Hasankeyf District Governor Faruk Bülent Baygüven vowed that state investments would continue in the district “despite terror events in the nearby region.”

Refuting local and international criticism of the dam project, Baygüven claimed that the district would become a “tourism center” once the Ilısu Dam fills with water. 

“We will create a magnificent new Hasankeyf. A lake will appear here when the dam is filled with water. This place will be very beautiful in five or six years,” he said.

Hasankeyf Cultural Association head Ahmet Akdeniz also claimed that locals were very supportive of the project and were keen to move to the new settlement.

“This project will save our future. Locals have been migrating to Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir and Bursa for years. I hope this migration will end with this project,” Akdeniz said.

One of the seven most endangered heritage sites 

The dam project is set to wipe out most of the ancient, 12,000-year-old town of Hasankeyf, located on the banks of the Tigris River in southeastern Turkey and featuring Neolithic caves, Roman ruins and medieval monuments. 

Eighty percent of Hasankeyf will be flooded due to the Ilısu Dam, which has been the subject of controversy since 2006 when its first foundational stone was placed. Due to the highly impactful nature of the dam, European creditors pulled their investment support for the dam in 2008, postponing its construction for two years.

Set to become Turkey’s fourth hydroelectric power plant if completed, the dam is part of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), which aims to create sustainable development for people living in Turkey’s southeast through the construction of dams and hydroelectric plants. 

Europa Nostra, a European heritage organization, the European Investment Bank Institute and Europa Nostra, the leading European heritage organization, announced on March 16 that Hasankeyf and its surroundings were one of the seven Most Endangered Heritage Sites in Europe. The announcement was made during an event at the Ateneo Veneto in Venice, Italy.

Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute, together with other partners and the nominators, will visit the seven selected sites and meet with key stakeholders in the coming months. The heritage and financial experts will provide technical advice, identify possible sources of funding and mobilize broad support.

The Seven Most Endangered for 2016 were selected by the Board of Europa Nostra from the 14 sites shortlisted by a panel of specialists in history, archaeology, architecture, conservation, project analysis and finance.

The Cultural Awareness Foundation nominated Hasankeyf for “The Seven Most Endangered” 2016 in an attempt to preserve it and to promote dialogue about heritage conservation and sustainability.