New Action Plan for Southeastern Turkey
By Taha Özhan
SETA Policy Brief, No. 18, August 2008
Currently, GAP is a regional development project that covers nine southeastern provinces extending over the wide plains in the basins of the lower Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Political and economical instability in Turkey in the 1980s diverted attention from the GAP Project and led to consecutive failures in meeting official targets for its progress within the initial time framework. Within the last five years, Turkey has undergone a significant social and economic transformation whereby fiscal discipline, effective inflation control and an average of greater than 7% growth have been achieved ahead of many expectations. Turkish government launched its long-awaited plan for the GAP Project, now scheduled for completion by 2012 at an expected cost of around 27 billion YTL ($20 billion). The government described its action plan to boost social and economic development in the country’s southeast as “a turning point for Turkey.” The GAP Project was designed not only as a rural development plan but also as an economic initiative intended to have positive social and political consequences for Turkey’s Kurdish issue. However, although it is certain that the Kurdish issue has an important socioeconomic dimension; it would be a mistake to reduce the issue to the economic backwardness of the region alone.