Sunday, March 13, 2011

Turkey going nuclear: is it wise after what happened in Japan?

I have just stumbled into this article:
Turkey reportedly plans to decide as early as this month the winner of a nuclear power plant tender. Japan had been seen ahead of its rival South Korea in the race.
As Turkey is also prone to earthquakes, the Japanese government and companies made a strong appeal based on their own quake-resistance technology. Although South Korea had enjoyed an early lead in the bidding race, Japan reversed the tide by signing a document with Turkey in December to cooperate in the development of human resources and other areas for the construction of nuclear power plants in Turkey.
But Friday's earthquake likely will cast a shadow over Japan's bid to take part in the Turkey project, sources said.
So, Turkey is going nuclear. Is it wise, knowing what just happened in Japan, a conscientious and prepared country? Turkey is one of the most seismic places in the world. While right now in France - the second biggest nuclear country in the world after the US - the discussion on the safety of nuclear installations is raging, the European Parliament on March 9th released a not-so-flattering report about Turkey where, among other things, it "Considers it regrettable that no progress has been made on limiting the immunities of Members of Parliament in respect of corruption-related offences", which sounds creepy, considering the role corruption often plays in tenders attribution. Even more creepy is the fact that Turkey has a long tradition as terrorism-striken country.

Will the Japan tsunami sweep away Turkey's dreams of nuclear glory? Will the civil society react? Or will the Turkish government just go on with its projects - just as it is doing with the GAP project in Southern-Eastern Anatolia -, ignoring the dissenting voices inside and outside the country, in the name of energy leadership in the region?

We'll try to understand it next week, at the International Tourism and Media Conference in Bursa, where we are going to meet, among others, the Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız. Keep following us.

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