Chronology of the Ilusu Dam Project


1950s: First discussions regarding the project

1971: First feasibility study

1982: Acceptance of final project outline

1997 - 2000: Project preparations by a consortium of companies from Switzerland, Austria, England, Italy, and Sweden under the direction of the Swiss firm Sulzer Hydro (Sulzer Hydro was purchased by VA Tech (AUT) in 1999; VA Tech Hydro was then purchased by Andritz (AUT) in 2006). Application for export credit insurance in the corresponding countries. Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) agrees to provide financing.

2000: The Swedish firm Skanska withdraws from the project.

2001: The British construction firm Balfour Beatty and the Italian firm Impregilo withdraw after the export credit agencies (ECAs) insinuate that they may not assume liability.

2002: The Swiss bank UBS withdraws financing. Justification: Continuing ambiguity regarding social and ecological conse- quences (2006: Confirmation of this step upon request).

Autumn 2004: Turkish government attempts to reinitiate the project.

2004-2005: A new building consortium is formed, with VA Tech (AUT, now Andritz) acting as head, and the firms Züblin (GER) whose majority shareholder is in the meantime STRABAG (AUT), Alstom, Stucky, Maggia, and Colenco (CH) as well as Nurol, Cengiz, Celikler, and Temelsu (TUR). Request for insurance from German, Austrian and Swiss export credit agencies.

March 2007: Germany, Austria and Switzerland approve the project in principle and assume export credit liability. Guarantees are tied to 153 requirements, with a Committee of Experts (CoE) monitoring compliance. Worldwide protest against this decision.

June 2007: Zürcher Kantonalbank (Switzerland) withdraws from the project. Justification: the project is incompatible with the bank’s sustainability principles.

August 2007: Contracts are signed between Turkey, the building consortium and the banks Bank Austria Creditanstalt (AUT), Société Générale (FRA) and DEKA Bank (GER).

Summer 2007: Turkey begins on-site expropriations. The ECAs and the Committee of Experts (CoE) are not informed, and are initially alerted to this development by NGOs.

February 2008:Turkey begins construction in Ilisu. Streets are levelled, workers’ quarters are constructed, and military camps are built overlooking the construction site.

March 2008: The Committee of Experts submits its first report. Outcome: international standards have not been achieved; practically none of the necessary requirements have been fulfilled. A suspension of construction of at least two years is recommen- ded. Turkey continues to build.

May 2008: In Turkey, the environmental protection organization Doga Dernegi initiates a nation-wide “Stop Ilisu – Save Hasankeyf” campaign, with participation from celebrities such as the Turkish pop-star Tarkan. An information office is opened in Hasankeyf.

September 2008: The second expert report is published. The report on resettlement leaves no doubt that the project is a disaster. A delay in construction of at least three years is recommended in order for the project to meet requirements. As a result, buil- ding activities in Ilisu and Hasankeyf are drastically reduced.

October 7th, 2008: Withdrawal Phase I: Germany, Austria and Switzerland send a letter to Turkey activating the environmental failure clause. From this point on, Turkey has 60 days time to fulfil project requirements.

Dec. 23rd, 2008: Withdrawal Phase II: Turkey’s deadline is extended, allowing another 180 days to fulfil requirements. The new deadline is set for July 6th, 2009.

April 17th, 2009: A study from the University of Istanbul confirms Hasankeyf’s eligibility as a UNESCO World Heritage site, along with the Tigris Valley. The region fulfils nine out of ten possible UNESCO-criteria, more than any other existing world heritage site.

June 2009: More and more celebrities join the campaign, including Nobel laureate for literature Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish pop-star Tarkan, the German director Fatih Akin, and numerous German and Austrian actors and politicians.

July 7th, 2009: Germany, Austria and Switzerland officially declare their withdrawal from the Ilisu project. Never before has an existing export guarantee been cancelled due to ecological, social or cultural concerns.

July 8th, 2009: The European banks also declare their withdrawal, leaving Turkey short of over 400 million Euros in funding. The Euro- pean construction firms decline to make a statement.

October 2009: Construction activity picks up again in Ilisu. Allegedly, German company Züblin and Swiss Alstom want to withdraw from the project, while Austrian Andritz AG wants to remain involved.

January 2010: Doga Dernegi announced that Garanti Bank and Akbank, two of biggest private banks of Turkey, and Halkbank, a state Bank, has assured domestic fund for the Ilisu Dam. All three banks confirmed this information. Doga Dernegi has expanded its campaign to include these two private banks. As the state bank, Halkbank, provided the requested fund the construction activities at Ilisu once again activated