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An Institutional Framework for Facilitating Cooperation in the Euphrates-Tigris River Basin

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image of International Negotiation

Since the initiation of major development projects, riparians of the Euphrates-Tigris river system, namely Turkey, Syria and Iraq, have begun utilizing those water resources under conditions of complex interdependence. A number of crises have occurred in the basin due to the lack of regularized consultation mechanisms among the riparians. Nevertheless, there have been notable efforts to build up a negotiation framework for data sharing and project coordination. The article describes the negotiation mechanisms and processes between Turkey, Syria and Iraq, as well as the bottlenecks and opportunities that exist over utilizing the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Negotiations over the water issues involved, both at the technical level and higher levels, have been suspended since the mid-1990s. The article asserts that there is a need to revitalize these negotiations. A clear understanding of the respective rights and obligations of the three riparians as well as an objective definition of such needs are prerequisites for sustaining the negotiation process. The article concludes by elaborating on the modalities of institution building that would facilitate negotiations over the use of the waters of the Euphrates-Tigris river system.

Affiliations: 1: Department of International Relations, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey; 2: Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry, Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) Regional Development Administration, Ankara, Turkey


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