Turkish ambassador to Tehran Reza Hakan Tekin says Turkey will not abandon its project to build a dam on the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers because the project is aimed at managing Turkey’s water resources and cope with droughts in the dry seasons.
The Iranians had earlier signed a petition and sent it to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, calling on Turkey to stop building dams on Tigris River in Iraq. The dams have already contributed to the desiccation of some wetlands in Iran and sand and dust storms in the south-western provinces.
Speaking on the sidelines of the International Conference on Combating Sand and Dust Storms; Challenges and Practical Solutions in Tehran, Tekin said Turkey’s studies show that the dam on Tigris-Euphrates River does not negatively affect Iraq and Syria in environmental terms.
“During the dry seasons, there is a huge shortfall and most of the regional countries face drought. The dry seasons negatively affect the environment.”
However, he added, by building the dams, we will have the required system to manage our water resources.
“Meanwhile, we can open the dams even during the dry seasons so that the regional countries can meet their water needs,” he said in a Farsi interview with the Mehr News Agency.
The ambassador also added that rainy seasons put the region in trouble as well.
“The sources of sand and dust storms hitting the region are located in the long-time deserts of the region. So the storms have nothing to do with our projects.”
He said Turkey has conducted in-depth studies on the projects and added some countries blame Turkey unjustly for not conducting enough scientific studies.
In response to a question on whether or not Turkey will accept the decisions of the international bodies about the rights of other countries to have access to the regional water resources, he said no country is ready to give away its sovereignty rights.
“The international organizations do not have the required jurisdiction to decide about issues like this.”
He drew a comparison between the rivers and oil reserves saying water resources are highly valuable. Tekin said no country can share its natural resources with others.
“If so, why don’t we share our oil reserves with other countries?”
Water is more valuable than oil today, he said.
“We should take responsibility for our actions. For example, Iran has transferred a huge amount of water from the southern province of Khuzestan to the province of Isfahan in the centre of the country for industrial purposes and this has left Khuzestan dried out,” Tekin added.