By Chris Elliott…….
The project of the century was officially started in 2011 when the then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan laid the foundation of the Alaköprü Dam over the Dragos river in Mersin.
For cyprusscene, I have been following the development of the Turkish water project and with approval of the DSI (Turkish Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs), I visited the TRNC Guzelyalı coastal pumping station complex, the Geçiköy dam complex and the Çamlıbel water treatment plant and was able to write about this experience click here.
Following on from this I was able to go to sea on a small tug to board a larger support vessel and view, experience and write about the joining of the TRNC to Turkey water pipeline click here.
So it was that on Saturday the 17th October I drove to the Çamlıbel water treatment plant and to say the least I was just totally amazed at the site that befell me. Driving to Çamlıbel along the coast road from Kyrenia, I saw increasing numbers of police along the way and upon arrival, I queued to go into one of two entrances where my vehicle was checked and then I arrived at a massive field which was being used for car and coach parking. From here I walked with many hundreds of people to the initial checkpoint where my camera bags were inspected and then onto another checkpoint where men and women were separated and checked through at which point I was directed to the media entrance which entailed a further check before I was able to enter the main area where I was able to walk round to the media enclosure which was in front of the male and female spectator enclosures.
Being at the front it was possible to see so many VIPs arriving and the excitement in the atmosphere was steadily increasing until two helicopters swooped over the complex and one of these would have contained President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from Turkey. By now the tension and excitement was increasing by the minute and when President Erdogan finally arrived in a car and entered the arena and took to the stage to wave to the crowd, the response was just plainly electrifying. For those at the rear of the crowd there was a constant showing of a DIS project video on a giant screen and of course the speeches by those that made them.
Following on from this, there were speeches by various dignitaries, including TRNC President Mustafa Akinci and finally by President Erdogan of Turkey who again lifted the spirit of the huge crowd by his words which as a non-Turkish speaker I cannot report.
Following the closure of the event as I made my way out through the complex I was able to pause and take photos of water filling up one of the huge tanks of the Camlibel water treatment plant.
Having experienced what is perhaps the final act in this fantastic project I was reminded of the past and what the naysayers had said. “It will never happen”, “We want none of this water”, It’s illegal to bring water in from Turkey.
One thing is for sure that now the water has arrived and the final stage of the distribution network is being installed and when the water starts to flow in the months ahead it’s going to be a real game changer in the Cyprus negotiations with the TRNC having an incredible asset (water) being shared with them by Turkey although we have yet to see who will manage the future distribution of the water.
With other ongoing reports of the Republic of Cyprus wanting more from a peace settlement and not willing to give as much to the TRNC, the prospect of a solution is still very uncertain. We also hear talk of the TRNC planning to change over to the Euro when it becomes part of the EU which is causing a fierce debate by those who feel they have most to lose by this changeover.
Finally in the past few days we have seen Angela Merkel the German Chancellor travel to Turkey to talk to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and asked for support on the international immigration problem and it was also reported that Turkey may get help to fast track its accession entry into the EU.
To the naysayers and rejectionists, we have seen how Turkey with great skill and perseverance has planned and implemented the Turkey to Northern Cyprus pipeline and one must ask the question, what other long term projects do they have in development?