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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Activist Tarkan at Berlin Summit

By Adelind Osmanlı reporting from Munich, Germany

Tarkan and chairman of the Doga Dernegi Güven Eken in Berlin for the 28 May 2009 Ilisu Summit
Tarkan and chairman of the Doğa Derneği, Güven Eken,
at the Ilisu Summit
Tarkan Deluxe takes a look at some of the press reports about famous pop star Tarkan's visit to Berlin, Germany, on 28 May to take part in a summit to stop the flooding of the Tigris River in Turkey.

Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle ("German Wave") - similar to international broadcasters such as the BBC World Service - has given space to Tarkan's Berlin trip on its online news site.

Focusing on Tarkan's key speech at the gathering - which the star delivered in English - the article writes that Tarkan began his speech by saying, "What business does a pop star have being at this summit?"

Tarkan at Ilisu Summit in BerlinThe artist went on to say that he was there to support everyone who was against the building of a dam in Southeastern Turkey and to ask for help to this end. Pressing German backers of the dam to pull out of the construction, Tarkan said that the region needed to be registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the Deutsche Welle report the decision about the dam is said to be coming to a head on 6 July this year, when the Turkish government have to meet a deadline to fulfil certain conditions, otherwise the German funding for the project will be withdrawn.

It was August 2006 when construction of Ilisu Dam of the Tigris River officially began with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launching the construction of the dam, promising to preserve the region's cultural legacy from the dramatic change they would bring to the landscape.

However, over time debates over whether the dam would be a gold necklace for the Tigris Valley or a rope around its neck grew louder - with Tarkan becoming the public voice for dissent in 2008.

Tarkan at Ilisu Summit in BerlinTarkan at Ilisu Summit in Berlin
Tarkan at Ilisu Summit in BerlinTarkan at Ilisu Summit in Berlin
Tarkan at Ilisu Summit in Berlin (28 May 2009)

Meanwhile, the official site of the Doğa Derneği (Nature Society) in its printed news of the Ilisu Dam Summit writes that Tarkan questioned the double standards of the European backers for the building of the controversial dam in his home nation.

"Germany, Austria and Switzerland have to stop dealing in double standards by circumventing its strict standards in Turkey, and set out a new vision for the Tigris Valley, which holds an exceptional natural and cultural legacy," he warned.

An online petition had also been started, with Doğa's news article reporting that Güven Eken, chairman of the Turkish nature society, handed over 80,000 signatures to Joachim Henkel, the Ilisu Dam coordinator in Germany at the summit.

The number of signatures has differed in certain press reports - Turkish newspaper Hürriyet had reported that 10,000 signatures had been collected, while left-wing paper Radikal wrote that 170,000 signatures had been presented to Henkel by Eken.

Eken said, "The countries supporting the dam have to know that our campaign is supported with signatures from their own citizens. We're going to do everything in our power to save the Tigris Valley."

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