The European Investment Bank (EIB) is lending ECU 32 million (1) for works to protect the environment in Diyarbakir, on the river Tigris in southeast Turkey.

This EIB loan signed under the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, benefits from a 3% interest subsidy financed from EU budgetary resources earmarked for environmental projects. The funds from the EIB, the European Union's long-term financing institution, are made available for 20 years to the Republic of Turkey. They will be onlent to DISKI - the water and wastewater Administration of the Metropolitan Municipality of Diyarbakir, for the expansion and rehabilitation of the sewerage system, as well as the construction of a wastewater treatment plant (first stage).

Identified by a study funded under the METAP (see below), these works will be implemented by DISKI up to the year 2003. They will improve the quality of life in the greater metropolitan Diyarbakir, the largest municipality in south-eastern Turkey, with a population of some 1.1 million inhabitants. It will safeguard drinking water resources and reduce pollution of the river Tigris, the region's major water resource.

The EIB is co-manager with the World Bank of the "Mediterranean Environmental Technical Assistance Programme" (METAP) launched in 1990 to assist Mediterranean countries in finding solutions, at national and regional level, to common environmental problems by developing policy options and mobilising grant aid. In 1997, METAP opened a regional office in Cairo. The EIB has to date financed 74 studies for a total ECU 7 million in the Mediterranean region.

The EIB is a lead player in implementing the European Union's "Euro-Mediterranean Partnership" and its priority objectives. The Bank has been entrusted with a mandate for the period 1997-2000 to provide up to ECU 2 310 million of funding for projects in the 12 non-EU Mediterranean countries which have signed cooperation and/or association agreements with the EU. Turkey is eligible to apply for EIB financing from this facility. Priority is to be given to financing environmental projects in Turkey (primarily wastewater collection and treatment). Since 1995, the EIB has contributed around ECU 440 million towards projects of key importance for the Turkish economy, such as the expansion of gas transmission and supply networks, the high-voltage electricity transmission and interconnection facilities between Turkey and Syria, improvements to the trunk and international telephone networks and large-scale water management schemes (sewerage systems and waste water treatment plants in Antalya, Ankara, Adana and Izmit), as well as the acquisition of container handling equipment at the ports of Haydarpasa (Istanbul), Mersin and Izmir. The EIB has also promoted small and medium-sized enterprises in the productive and cooperative sectors through global loans to commercial banks, intended particularly to promote Turkish/European joint ventures.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtained on 30 September 1998, when ECU 1 = TRL 324.008, GBP 0.69, USD 1.13.