Residents of Turkish Thracian province eye suing Bulgaria over floods: Minister
AA PhotoResidents in the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne are considering suing the Bulgarian government over floods triggered by dams in the neighboring country, Turkish Forestry and Waterworks Minister Veysel Eroğlu has said, expressing his support for such a move.
The Thracian city of Edirne, which borders Bulgaria, has been hit in recent days by floods from the Tundzha and Maritsa (Tunca and Meriç) rivers, as heavy rain that gripped the Balkans caused a sharp increase in the water levels of rivers in the area.
Eroğlu said the floods in the city, which prompted the evacuation of two villages on Feb. 2 after large sections of them were submerged, was caused by the sudden melting of snow melt in Bulgaria and dams constructed by the Bulgarian government “without considering flood margins.”
“They built some dams but unfortunately they don’t leave a marginal volume against floods,” he said on Feb. 4, answering reporters’ questions after the inaugural meeting of the EU River Basins Management Plans Project.
Eroğlu said Edirne residents had signaled that they were considering whether to sue Bulgaria, fed up with repeated overwhelming water flows that “put the city in lockdown.”
“When I was in Edirne, they [residents] said they will file lawsuit against Bulgaria about this issue if necessary. I also think it may be useful to do that,” he said.
Minister Eroğlu claimed that the Turkish authorities had warned their counterparts in Sofia “many times” about the issue, but now “our citizens have run out of patience.”
Joint project ‘at deadlock’
He also complained about Bulgaria’s “inaction” over the two country’s joint Tundzha Project, which was designed to take the flow speed and rate of the river under control in order to pave the way for its more efficient use in tourism activities.
“It was a joint friendship project. We completed everything … But when the time came for a bilateral agreement, the Bulgarian government didn’t do anything, although we sent the draft,” he said.
As the two countries have also failed to reach an agreement over the building of a joint dam on the Tundzha River, Ankara has drafted plan B to prevent floods in the region by constructing a dam on the Turkish side of the border, Eroğlu also said.
“We want to direct those waters to a dam on our soil by constructing a dam in Çömlekköy,” he stated, adding that the government planned to use excess water in irrigation during the summer months.
“Hopefully, we will be able to decrease floods from the Tundzha and Maritsa rivers,” Eroğlu added.