Turkey to lead regional countries in water cooperation

Turkey to lead regional countries in water cooperation

İpek Yezdani – STOCKHOLM
Turkey to lead regional countries in water cooperation

Turkey was chosen to lead the “Blue Peace Initiative” on Aug. 31 in a meeting held in Stockholm, Sweden. The Istanbul-based Turkish Water Institute (SUEN) will coordinate the initiative until 2020.

The Blue Peace Initiative was formed by six regional countries and aims to increase regional cooperation and coordination on transboundary water resources in the Middle East.

“With this new post, Turkey will lead regional cooperation regarding the efficient use of regional water resources,” a former undersecretary at Turkey’s Environment and Forestry Ministry, Professor Hasan Z. Sarıkaya told daily Hürriyet in Stockholm following the two-day meeting of the new initiative.

The Blue Peace Initiative, steered by the Strategic Foresight Group and formed by Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, held a meeting at the Swedish capital last week. The organization is supported by Sweden and Switzerland.

The structure of the new project included water experts and decision makers from the six regional countries to increase the use of water as a tool for cooperation and minimizing conflict over transboundary water resources in the Middle East region.

“Blue Peace in the Middle East” was initiated in 2009 and Turkey became a part of the process in 2011. Since then, Turkey has aimed to contribute in a way that would change perceptions on water as a source of conflict to “water as a reason for peace,” said Hasan Z. Sarıkaya, a Turkish representative at the meeting.

“By undertaking in the coordination of this initiative, Turkey will strengthen its hand and have more control over improving the water dialogue, ensuring the coordination and securing the cooperation between these six countries. Turkey has always used water as a source of peace and cooperation. Turkey will share its experience in developing water resources with regional countries within this organization,” he said.

The Blue Peace Initiative will hold its next meeting in Istanbul by the end of 2019. The organization will launch a new project in 2019 in order to improve the efficiency of agricultural water use in the Middle East.

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