Ulrich Eichelmann, ECA Watch Austria +43-676-6621512
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The Austrian company Andritz AG will be the only European company to remain within the controversial Ilisu dam project on the Tigris River in south-eastern Turkey. Alstom (FR/CH) and Züblin (D/AUT), who were also supposed to be involved in the construction of the dam, have now finally pulled out of the project. This appears in a report from the Czech General Consulate in Turkey.
According to the report, Andritz will take over the contracts of Alstom, Züblin's work will be carried out through Turkish companies. After the withdrawal of three European banks in July 2009, a part of the missing financing for the project will be taken over by Turkish Halkbank in Bahrain. It is unclear if the Austrian VA Tech Finance played a role in this - a letter from the Turkish water agency DSI from April 20th2010 states that Austrian VA Tech Hydro is responsible for aquiring project loans. (Quote: "The credit is generated by the finance leader of the project, Va TECH Hydro Gmbh & Co.")
Just recently an examination of the construction site by ECA Watch Austria showed that heavy construction work has restarted. Even according to Turkish law this activity must be illegal, as the contracts were awarded to the international consortium including the European firms. At the moment dam critics' lawyers are investigating legal avenues to stop the work. The Turkish water agency DSI argues, that the Consortium has not changed, as Andritz is still involved.
This shows that Andritz can now make the difference. The decision makers at Andritz, especially the head of the company Wolfgang Leitner, are in a rare position: Their involvement or withdrawal can decide about the destruction or the preservation of this region with its unique natural landscape and cultural heritage and about the future of 70.000 people. "If Andritz quits their contracts as well, the construction has to be halted and there has to be a new call for tenders", says Ulrich Eichelmann from ECA Watch Austria, who just returned from the Tigris.
Already in July 2009 Germany, Austria and Switzerland, who had granted state guarantees, pulled out of "Ilisu", after having monitored the project for several years. The reasons for their withdrawal were that Turkey had not fulfilled project conditions concerning environment, resettlement and cultural heritage and the expected impacts of the project. The European banks followed this step by withdrawing their loans of approximately €500 million in total.