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A new Turkish Coffee Briefing was focused on the topic of “Greening Turkey: is there an European vision?” The introductory speech was given by Dr Uygar Özesmi, Executive Director of Greenpeace Mediterranean.
During the debate moderated by Gizem Karslı, participants from the European Parliament, European Commission, international media, think thanks, business and civic society exchanged views. The meeting was held under Chatham House rules and following issues were raised by participants:
- Turkey’s Growth policies and sustainability have not yet found a rational synergy, and current policies are destructive and not in convergence with European environmental policies.
- Biodiversity in Turkey should be better evaluated as a source of global power within Europe especially considering agro-biodiversity and Turkey as the origin of many commercial seed varieties including but not limited to wheat and many legumes.
- Turkey’s ecological treasure is amazingly rich: a significant contribution to Europe’s future.
- Climate change is the perfect common European challenge with transnational interests and need for global action, where Turkey’s role is still missing and not supported by national energy policies.
- Ankara’s nuclear power ambitions include high risks, damages, and will cause structural problems.
- Renewable energy potential of Turkey, projects for the South-eastern Europe are not used, policies are insufficient and barriers are not lifted.
- Regarding air pollution, climate change, water, waste management and so on, Turkey is adopting the related EU law but implementation problems persist and are geared to addressing symptoms rather than root causes.
- Environment is a very significant market for investments in the area of environmental infrastructures, clean technologies and services. With sound financing schemes, EU companies can play an important role but must focus on the original causes of problems.
- NGOs such as Greenpeace Mediterranean, WWF-Turkey, TEMA Foundation, and Doğa Derneği (BirdLife Partner) are very active in the field, but their recommendations are largely not taken into account by the current government.
- Turkish public’s sensitiveness to the environmental protection is rapidly growing as it is demonstrated by the large reaction to the projects of serial hydraulic dams, coal power plants, nuclear energy plans, and biodiversity loss in several locations in Anatolia.
- Urgent need for European Commission and the European Parliament is to focus on Turkey beyond the annual progress reports.
- Turkey should be encouraged to ratify the Arhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters – This will bring empowerment of non-governmental environmental stakeholders.