Turkey passes controversial border mine clearing bill

The government was forced to rewrite parts of the bill after Speculation an Israeli company would win the contract has inflamed sentiments.

Turkey passes controversial border mine clearing bill

Turkey's parliament passed a controversial government-backed bill early on Thursday to clear mines along Turkey's southern border and draw foreign investment to the region, news agency Anatolian reported on Thursday.

The parliament passed the bill with 255 votes in favor while 91 lawmakers voted against the bill.

Debate around the bill, which would allow a "foreign company" to lease the border area with Syria for 49 years, has stirred firm opposition and caused the main opposition party to threaten to take the law to the Constitutional Court.

Speculation an Israeli company would win the contract has inflamed sentiments, and the government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was forced to rewrite parts of the bill.

According to the law, the Turkish National Defense Ministry will invite companies and institutions at first. If failed, the Finance Ministry will open a tender.

If mine fields cannot be cleared with these two methods, the project will be put to tender. In this way, those fields will be used for agricultural purposes after the land mines are cleared. The tender will be awarded to the company or institution that will pledge to use the lands less than others.

The land mines in military zones in the area will be cleared but the zones will not be given to the contractors.

The contractors will clear the land mines in five years after they win the project. They cannot use the lands for agriculture more than 44 years after they clear the fields.

Erdogan has defended the bill, which sees the possible leasing of the 510-km long area for agricultural use, as a way to lure foreign investment.

The parliament began discussing the bill on May 12 but deliberations lasted till January 4 because of objections of the opposition parties.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Haziran 2009, 11:41
YORUM EKLE