TIME World

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Goes Blonde in Solidarity With Spokeswoman Called ‘Dumb Blonde’

Posted photo of himself with blonde hair with the caption "we're all blonde"

The U.S. Ambassador to Turkey went blonde on Instagram Thursday after the mayor of Ankara ridiculed American spokeswoman Marie Harf as a “dumb blonde.”

Ambassador John Bass posted this photo to Instagram Thursday, apparently using Photoshop to color his dark hair blonde (it doesn’t appear to be hair dye, but it’s not immediately clear) along with the caption “we’re all blonde.”

#ABD'li diplomatlar: hepimiz #sarışınız. #American diplomats: we're all blonde.

A photo posted by John Bass (@amerikanbuyukelcisi) on

It was an apparent retort to now-deleted tweets posted Wednesday by Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek, who referred to Harf as a “blonde girl” as he called her out for previous criticism of Turkish police crackdowns on public protests in 2013. He said that criticism is now hypocritical in light of the American police response to the protests in Baltimore. Gokcek tweeted a picture of Harf’s face next to a headline that said, “Where are you, dumb blonde, who said Turkish police used disproportionate force?” and added a comment in English that said, “come on blonde, answer now.”

Harf declined to comment on the Twitter insults, telling reporters she wouldn’t “dignify them with a response.”

TIME protest

Workers Rally on May Day Across the World

A masked protestor runs away from tear gas during a May Day rally at Okmeydani in Istanbul on May 1, 2015.
Yasin Akgul—AFP/Getty Images A masked protestor runs away from tear gas during a May Day rally at Okmeydani in Istanbul on May 1, 2015.

May 1 regularly sees clashes between police and militant groups in some cities

(HAVANA) — Left-wing groups, governments and trade unions were staging rallies around the world Friday to mark International Workers Day.

Most events were peaceful protests for workers’ rights and world peace. But May 1 regularly sees clashes between police and militant groups in some cities.

International Workers Day originates in the United States. American unions first called for the introduction of an eight-hour working day in the second half of the 19th century. A general strike was declared to press these demands, starting May 1, 1886. The idea spread to other countries and since then workers around the world have held protests on May 1 every year, although the U.S. celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday in September.

Here’s a look at some of the May Day events around the world:

TURKEY

Police and May Day demonstrators clashed in Istanbul as crowds determined to defy a government ban tried to march to the city’s iconic Taksim Square.

Security forces pushed back demonstrators using water cannons and tear gas. Protesters retaliated by throwing stones and hurling firecrackers at police.

Authorities have blocked the square that is symbolic as the center of protests in which 34 people were killed in 1977.

Turkish newswires say that 10,000 police officers were stationed around the square Friday.

The demonstrations are the first large-scale protests since the government passed a security bill this year giving police expanded powers to crack down on protesters.

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CUBA

Thousands of people converged on Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution for the traditional May Day march, led this year by President Raul Castro and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. After attending Cuba’s celebration, Maduro was to fly back to Caracas to attend the May Day observances in his own country.

The parade featured a group of doctors who were sent to Africa to help in the fight against Ebola. Marchers waved little red, white and blue Cuban flags as well as posters with photos of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, his brother Raul, and the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

Additional marches were held in major cities around the island, including Santiago and Holguin in the east.

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SOUTH KOREA

Thousands of people marched in the capital Seoul on Friday for a third week to protest government labor policies and the handling of a ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people a year ago.

Demonstrators occupied several downtown streets and sporadically clashed with police officers. Protesters tried to move buses used to block their progress. Police responded by spraying tear gas. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

South Korean labor groups have been denouncing a series of government policies they believe will reduce wages, job security and retirement benefits for state employees.

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PHILIPPINES

More than 10,000 workers and activists marched in Manila and burned an effigy of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to protest low wages and a law allowing employers to hire laborers for less than six months to avoid giving benefits received by regular workers.

Workers in metropolitan Manila now receive 481 pesos ($10.80) in daily minimum wage after a 15 peso ($0.34) increase in March.

Although it is the highest rate in the country, it is still “a far cry from being decent,” says Lito Ustarez, vice chairman of the left-wing May One Movement.

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GREECE

In financially struggling Greece, an estimated 13,000 people took part in three separate May Day marches in Athens, carrying banners and shouting anti-austerity slogans. Minor clashes broke out at the end of the peaceful marches, when a handful of hooded youths threw a petrol bomb at riot police. No injuries or arrests were reported.

Earlier, ministers from the governing radical left Syriza party joined protesters gathering for the marches, including Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis — who was mobbed by media and admirers — and the ministers of labor and energy.

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GERMANY

Police in Berlin say the traditional ‘Walpurgis Night’ protest marking the eve of May 1 was calmer than previous years.

Several thousand people took part in anti-capitalist street parties in the north of the city. Fireworks and stones were thrown at police, injuring one officer. Fifteen people were detained. Elsewhere in the German capital revelers partied “extremely peacefully,” police noted on Friday morning.

At noon, Green Party activists unveiled a statue at Alexanderplatz in central Berlin of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, considered heroes by many on the left for leaking secret U.S. intelligence and military documents. The statue, called “Anything to say,” depicts the three standing on chairs and is scheduled to go on tour around the world, according to the website http://www.anythingtosay.com/.

In the central German city of Weimar far-right extremists attacked a union event. Police said 15 people were injured and 29 were arrested.

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RUSSIA

In Moscow, tens of thousands of workers braved chilly rain to march across Red Square. Instead of the red flags with the Communist hammer and sickle used in Soviet times, they waved the blue flags of the dominant Kremlin party and the Russian tricolor.

Despite an economic crisis that is squeezing the working class, there was little if any criticism of President Vladimir Putin or his government.

The Communist Party later held a separate march under the slogan “against fascism and in support of Donbass,” with participants calling for greater support for the separatists fighting the Ukrainian army in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

___

ITALY

In Milan, police released water from hydrants against hundreds of demonstrators, many of them scrawling graffiti on walls or holding smoky flares during a march in the city, where the Italian premier and other VIPs were inaugurating Expo, a world’s fair that runs for six months.

An hour into the march, protesters set at least one parked car on fire, smashed store windows, tossed bottles and chopped up pavement.

Italian labor confederation leaders held their main rally in a Sicilian town, Pozzallo, where thousands of migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia have arrived in recent weeks after being rescued at sea from smugglers boats. Hoping to settle for the most part in northern Europe, the migrants are fleeing poverty as well as persecution or violent conflicts in their homelands.

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SPAIN

Around 10,000 protesters gathered under sunny skies in Madrid to take part in a May Day march under a banner saying “This is not the way to come out of the financial crisis.”

Spain’s economy is slowly emerging from the double-dip recession it hit at the end of 2013, but the country is still saddled with a staggering 23.8 percent unemployment rate.

“There should be many more of us here,” said demonstrator Leandro Pulido Arroyo, 60. “There are six million people unemployed in Spain, and many others who are semi-unemployed, who although they may be working don’t earn enough to pay for decent food.”

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POLAND

Rallies in Warsaw were muted this year after Poland’s weakened left wing opposition held no May Day parade.

Only a few hundred supporters of the Democratic Left Alliance, or SLD, and of its ally, the All-Poland Trade Union, gathered for a downtown rally Friday to demand more jobs and job security.

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BRAZIL

President Dilma Rousseff skipped her traditional televised May Day address, instead releasing a brief video calling attention to gains for workers under her leadership.

In the video, Rousseff says the minimum wage grew nearly 15 percent above the rate of inflation from 2010-2014. Her office said the choice to roll out several short videos via social media Friday was aimed at reaching a younger public.

TIME conflict

Turkey and Armenia Host Clashing Centennial Memorials

ARMENIA-GENOCIDE-CENTENARY
Alain Jocard—AFP/Getty Images Armenian president Serge Sarkissian (2-R), his wife Rita (2-L) and their children arrive for a ceremony at the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan on April 24, 2015.

Commemorations of two 1915 events—the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey and the Turkish stand at Gallipoli—have caused tension

More than 60 leaders and representatives from around the world converged on the Armenian capital on Friday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of a period during which more than 1 million Armenians were killed in Turkey. Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President François Hollande both attended the ceremony, while the White House dispatched Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

The anniversary of the 1915 killings, in what was then the eastern edge of the Ottoman Empire, has coincided with a surge in international awareness. In the past month, global icons ranging from Pope Francis to Kim Kardashian (who has Armenian ancestry) have ruffled Turkish feathers by shedding light on the killings and using the term “genocide,” which the Turkish government rejects. And as world envoys gather in Yerevan, similar ceremonies will be held in cities around the world.

On April 24, 1915, the Ottomans rounded up Armenian intellectuals in Istanbul in the beginning of what historians widely consider a genocidal act of bloodshed. In an article years later about a violent Armenian campaign for vengeance, TIME described the killings like this:

During World War I, the Turks exterminated or deported virtually their entire Armenian population because they held the unfounded suspicion that members of the ethnic group were disloyal. The decision to undertake the genocide was communicated to the local leaders by the Interior Minister, Talaat Pasha, in 1915. One of his edicts stated that the government had decided to “destroy completely all Armenians living in Turkey. An end must be put to their existence, however criminal the measures taken may be, and no regard must be paid to age, or sex, or to scruples of conscience.”

The Turkish authorities rounded up all able-bodied men in the Turkish army and bludgeoned them to death. Intellectuals and community leaders in Istanbul were herded aboard ships, then drowned at sea. Armenian babies were thrown live into pits and covered with stones. Women, children and old people were forced to march hundreds of miles, over mountains, presumably to a place of deportation in Syria, but actually to their deaths. Forbidden supplies of food and water, they were waylaid by brigands. Turkish gendarmes raped and sometimes disemboweled or cut the breasts off women before finally killing them. While the horrified U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau Sr., appealed in vain to the Turks to stop the slaughter, hundreds of thousands of Armenians could be seen, as Morgenthau put it, “winding in and out of every valley and climbing up the sides of every mountain.”

But even today, the Turkish government still rejects the “genocide” label and says the killing of Armenians was a casualty of the World War. And to the dismay of Armenians, Turkey is hosting a separate centennial ceremony on Friday: a commemoration of the World War I Gallipoli military campaign, the unsuccessful British and French-led invasion of Turkey that also began in 1915.

The naval operation off the coast began on March 18, a day that is traditionally associated in Turkey with the onset of the campaign. Then, following the failure of the naval bombardment, the allies landed troops on Ottoman beaches on April 25, beginning the ill-fated land offensive. Today that date is observed in Australia and New Zealand as Anzac day, a national remembrance day.

Though the centenary events were bound to be close together, some observers say the timing of the Gallipoli memorial appears to be a deliberate attempt to divert attention from the Armenian anniversary, as it forces the world’s dignitaries to choose one or the other. “It certainly looks like an intentional move by Turkey,” said Thomas de Waal, a historian with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the author of Great Catastrophe, about the genocide and its aftermath.

Fatih Öke, a spokesperson at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, denied that charge, noting that Turkey has held a Gallipoli commemoration on April 24 since 2003. This year, because of the centennial anniversary, he said, the government invited foreign leaders. “Sorry, we already have this date,” he said.

Still, no matter the motivation, appearances count. “This may rebound against the Turkish government,” said de Waal. “Whereas if they for example had had it on the 25th, then a lot of officials could have gone to Yerevan one day and to Turkey on the next, and that would have been quite elegant.”

A dozen heads of state and five prime ministers were slated to attend the Gallipoli centennial celebration, including Australian Premier Tony Abbott. But with the exception of the British royalty and Irish President Michael Higgins, none are from Western Europe. Hollande’s presence at the Armenian memorial, rather than the Turkish memorial, is particularly conspicuous given France’s central role in the Gallipoli campaign. And though U.S. ambassador to Turkey John Bass was set to attend the Gallipoli memorial, the U.S. is not sending a separate representative from Washington.

Under rising pressure from the international community, the government in Turkey has recently appeared to ease its approach. On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu expressed “deep condolences” to descendants of the Armenians who suffered during that time.

But activists in the U.S. are skeptical that the Premier’s statements represent a long term change in attitude.

“Davutoglu was just trying to deter or derail recognition efforts. There’s no expression of regret, there’s no acceptance of responsibility,” said Aram Hamparian, the executive committee of the Armenian National Committee of America. “There’s no doubt in my mind that they organized this Gallipoli thing to detract attention from the Armenian genocide centennial.”

To be sure, Turkey continues to pressure foreign countries on the use of the term “genocide.” President Recep Erdogan warned the Pope not to repeat the “mistake” of using the word, and the White House remains reluctant to risk relations with a key ally in a tumultuous region. On Tuesday, White House officials informed Armenian American leaders that President Barack Obama would not use the term in remarks on Friday, despite a 2008 campaign pledge and vocal past support from people within his administration.

“While it is essential to ensure that Turkey continues to ‘treat the Americans all right,’ a stable, fruitful, 21st century relationship cannot be built on a lie,” Samantha Power, now the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, wrote in TIME in 2007.

Read Power advocate for recognizing the Armenian Genocide in October, 2007: Honesty Is the Best Policy

TIME Armenia

German President Enrages Turkey by Referring to 1915 Armenian ‘Genocide’

German President Joachim Gauck delivers a speech at the Berlin Cathedral Church in Berlin, Germany, April 23, 2015
Michael Sohn—AP German President Joachim Gauck delivers a speech at the Berlin Cathedral Church in Berlin, Germany, April 23, 2015

"The fate of the Armenians stands as exemplary in the history of mass exterminations, ethnic cleansing, deportations and yes, genocide"

German President Joachim Gauck on Thursday angered Turkey by labeling the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 as a “genocide” ahead of Friday’s centennial commemoration of the event, which took place during World War I.

A day before the German parliament debates using the term “genocide” for the Armenian massacre, Gauck said, “The fate of the Armenians stands as exemplary in the history of mass exterminations, ethnic cleansing, deportations and yes, genocide, which marked the 20th century in such a terrible way.”

However, the contentious term has sparked outcry within Turkey, which has a significant Armenian minority and officially contends that both sides suffered a heavy death toll during the war. The successor state of the Ottoman Empire, as the territory was known during 1915, has never formally acknowledged the Armenian massacre as a genocide.

On Wednesday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Dautoglu urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to exclude the genocide label in parliamentary debates. “To reduce everything to a single word, to put responsibility through generalizations on the Turkish nation alone … is legally and morally problematic,” he said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the Armenian deaths “our shared pain” and offered to establish a joint historical commission to examine the deaths, but fell short of acknowledging the events as a “genocide.”

“[U]sing the events of 1915 as an excuse for hostility against Turkey and turning this issue into a matter of political conflict is inadmissible,” Erdoğan said in a statement.

Pope Francis recently provoked the ire of Erdoğan for labeling the 1915 Armenian killings as the “first genocide of the 20th century.”

TIME Turkey

Obama Won’t Call Armenian Killings ‘Genocide’

President Barack Obama speaks during a reception for supporters of H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 21, 2015 in Washington.
Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images President Barack Obama speaks during a reception for supporters of H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 21, 2015 in Washington.

The President has not used the term in reference to the killings while in office

President Barack Obama won’t use the term “genocide” in remarks Friday marking the 100th anniversary of the killing of more than a million Armenians, officials said Tuesday, igniting disappointment from critics who say the President is catering too much to Turkey.

Activists had hoped that the President would realize a 2008 campaign pledge and use the term for the first time in office, particularly as other governments and world leaders, including Pope Francis, have referred to the massacres as “genocide” in recent days.

But in a meeting with Armenian American leaders on Tuesday, administration officials said Obama would not use the term. “President Obama’s surrender to Turkey represents a national disgrace. It is, very simply, a betrayal of truth, a betrayal of trust,” ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian said in a statement Tuesday.

The Turkish government has consistently rejected the term—President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the Pope not to repeat the “mistake” of using it—and the White House has long been reluctant to risk relations with a key ally in a tumultuous region.

Taner Akcam, a history professor at Clark University who was one of the first Turkish academics to openly call the killings “genocide,” said it was “a shame” that Obama was set to again avoid the term.

“The United States is always emphasizing its exceptionalism in supporting liberal values and human rights at home and across the world,” Akcam said. “But Obama and the Americans should also recognize that one should uphold human rights not only when it’s convenient.”

TIME Turkey

The Turkish Journalists Who Reprinted Charlie Hebdo Caricatures May Be Jailed

Hikmet Cetinkaya, a columnist of Cumhuriyet newspaper in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 14, 2015
AP Hikmet Cetinkaya, a columnist of Cumhuriyet newspaper in Istanbul, Turkey, Jan. 14, 2015

Turkish prosecutors say the images of the Prophet Muhammad "insult people's religious values"

Two Turkish columnists who reprinted caricatures of Prophet Muhammed from the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo risk jail time for “insulting people’s religious values,” according to an indictment from Turkish prosecutors published by their secular employer, the Cumhuriyet Daily newspaper.

“We are being threatened with prison for defending free speech,” one of the accused, Ceyda Karan, told Reuters. “To threaten a journalist because he or she printed a drawing that does not include an insult can only come from a religious, authoritarian government.”

Karan and her colleague Hikmet Cetinkaya printed the images to show their solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, the Parisian newspaper that was attacked by Islamist gunmen on Jan. 7, with the loss of 11 lives. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stated the caricatures constituted an “incitement” and opened an investigation.

Cumhuriyet received threats following the printing.

Turkey’s penal code administers jail time for acts deemed disrespectful toward religion.

[Reuters]

TIME Turkey

Turkish Prosecutor Orders Social Media Sites Blocked

A picture representing a mugshot of the twitter bird is seen on a smart phone with a Turkish flag in Istanbul on Mar. 26, 2014.
Ozan Kose—AFP/Getty Images A picture representing a mugshot of the twitter bird is seen on a smart phone with a Turkish flag in Istanbul on Mar. 26, 2014.

Twitter and Youtube are reportedly blocked

(ISTANBUL) — A Turkish prosecutor has ordered Internet providers to block social networking sites, including Twitter and YouTube, a spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday.

The request stems from postings of photos that show militant Marxists pointing a gun at a prosecutor who died last week in a shootout between police and the Marxists who were holding him hostage.

Government officials have blasted Turkish media for posting the images, which they have called anti-government propaganda. The prosecutor, Mehmet Selim Kiraz, was shot in the head during the standoff and died in a hospital soon after.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the social media order was being carried out, but the government-run Anadolu Agency quoted the Union of Internet Providers as confirming that access to Twitter and YouTube has been blocked. Some users could still access the sites, while others reported being blocked.

The agency said access was blocked because Twitter and YouTube didn’t remove images of the prosecutor despite an official notification. It says the Internet Providers notified Twitter and YouTube, but video, photographs and audio continued to be posted on these sites. The Turkish telecommunications authority wouldn’t immediately comment.

Twitter said Monday it was working to restore access to users in Turkey and Bulent Kent, the head of the Internet Providers Union, told Anadolu that the ban on Twitter was expected to be lifted soon.

“We are aware of reports of interruption of our service in Turkey, and we are working to restore access for our users as soon as possible,” the company said in Turkish and in English through its @policy account.

The journalists group, Turkish Press Council, said that while it understood the authorities concerns over the publication of the prosecutors’ photographs, it said banning social media websites was in conflict with democracy.

“It is meaningless to totally shut down social platforms — which contain billions of useful information — to the use of the Turkish people because of some unsuitable content,” the group said.

Users meanwhile were sharing information on how to get around the ban on the Internet.

Last year, Turkey blocked access to YouTube and Twitter after audio recordings of a secret security meeting or tapes suggesting corruption by government officials were leaked on the social media sites. Turkey’s highest court, however, overturned the bans, deeming them to be unconstitutional.

Previous moves by Turkish authorities to block the social media networks have provoked widespread criticism by Western governments and human rights organizations.

Many tech-savvy users, including former President Abdullah Gul, had found ways to circumvent the bans both on Twitter and YouTube while they were in place.

___

Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.

 

TIME Photojournalism Links

The 10 Best Photo Essays of the Month

A compilation of the 10 most interesting photo essays published online in March, as curated by Mikko Takkunen

This month’s Photojournalism Links collection highlights 10 excellent photo essays from across the world, including Matt Black‘s work from Guerrero state in Mexico. Black has documented impoverished indigenous communities in southern Mexico for years. This latest work captures communities affected by rampant crime and poverty, including the disappearance of the 43 students from a school in Iguala. The black-and-white photographs are extraordinary and the accompanying short-film, which includes a moving letter from a mother to his lost son, is definitely worth watching. The reporting was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center.

Matt Black: Guerrero and the Disappeared (The New Yorker Photo Booth) Watch “The Monster in the Mountains,” a short film based on Black’s work in Guerrero.

Adam Ferguson: The Deadly Global War for Sand (Wired) These stunning photographs document sand mining in India.

Lynsey Addario: India’s Insurgency (National Geographic) Addario’s pictures capture mineral-rich eastern Indian states, plagued by poverty and a continuing Maoist insurgency.

Josh Haner: The Ride of Their Lives (The New York Times) A fantastic year-long project that follows three generations of one rodeo-mad family | More on the Lens blog

Yuri Kozyrev: Cuba (TIME LightBox) TIME contract photographer’s beautiful work from the Cuban capital.

Mathias Depardon: Gold Rivers (TIME LightBox) Construction of the hydroelectric Ilisu Dam in Turkey threatens a cultural treasure.

Lynsey Addario: Afghan Policewomen Struggle Against Culture (The New York Times) A compelling series on Afghani women determined to make a difference.

Newsha Tavakolian: Stress and Hope in Tehran (The New York Times) These excellent portraits paired with insightful quotes give us a peek inside the minds of Iranians.

Eugene Richards: Lincoln (National Geographic) Richards’ photographs trail the assassinated president’s last journey home in 1865 and raise questions about his life and legacy.

Matteo Bastianelli: Young Syrian Refugee’s Journey Through Europe (MSNBC) The Italian photographer has documented a Syrian refugee’s life in Bulgaria and journey to Germany. | More on his agency’s website

TIME portfolio

Discover the Cultural Treasure Turkey Threatens to Flood

Construction of the hydroelectric Ilisu Dam threatens the ancient village of Hasankeyf

“Absurd.” That’s how documentary photographer Mathias Depardon describes the surreal scene of a mosque’s minaret jutting out from the water as a boat passes by in Savaçan.

The tiny community along the Euphrates River in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern region was flooded by the filling of the Birecik Dam’s reservoir about 15 years ago, pushing its residents and others nearby into a new settlement erected by the country’s housing authority.

Activists worry Hasankeyf is next. The small village with ancient roots on the edge of the Tigris River is upstream from the hydroelectric Ilisu Dam, the last major dam to be built within the decades-long Southeastern Anatolia Project, Turkey’s largest hydropower project that is comprised of 22 dams and 19 power stations. Once construction on Ilisu is done—Turkey was forced to secure alternative funds after European backers pulled out, putting it behind schedule as environmental campaigns steadily lobbied against it—the filling of an 11 billion cubic-meter reservoir will inundate some 74,000 acres, including Hasankeyf.

Ankara has long-positioned the dam as a provider of irrigation and jobs to an impoverished corner of Turkey, and considers it part of the solution to the country’s dependence on foreign energy imports amid increasing domestic demand, as the dam is expected to generate some 2% of Turkey’s current electricity supply. The tradeoff, aside from the further of squeezing crucial supplies downstream in Syria and Iraq, exacerbating already strained tensions from decades of cross-border water disputes, is that part of Hasankeyf—along with its found and still hidden archaeological treasures—and other nearby sites will morph from open air exhibits on ancient Mesopotamia to underwater treasure chests. (Hasankeyf was placed on the World Monuments Fund’s 2008 Watch List.)

Turkey says archaeologists are working to excavate, record and preserve “as much as possible.” And, like others impacted by dams, residents due to be displaced by water can move into a new settlement built across the river.

Depardon, who is half-French and half-Belgian, heard about the project after he moved to Turkey a few years ago. For the 34-year-old photographer, who estimates that he shoots 30 to 50 assignments in a given year, the disappearing village became part of his personal project: an environmental portrait of a land steeped in history before it’s drowned.

A lot of people have assumptions about what Hasankeyf will be like, he says, especially in light to what happened to Savaçan: “People don’t go [to Savaçan] with the nostalgia of the place. Obviously, they didn’t know the place before that, they’d never been there. But they go there and they visit as they would an entertainment park.” Still, he adds, not everyone in the area is against the dam.

Hasankeyf is the iconic at-risk community, Depardon says, but his project is more of a visual look at overall Turkish dam policy that’s driven, he says, by anti-environmental policymakers in Ankara. That’s part of why he named the project Gold Rivers. The expected completion of the dam this year, and the energy that it will help generate, will help pad state coffers while impacting local tourism industries: “The water is now money.”

Mathias Depardon is a documentary photographer based in Istanbul, Turkey. Follow him on Instagram @mathiasdepardon.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

Andrew Katz is a News Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @katz.

TIME energy

Europe Turns To Turkey As Alternative To Russian Energy

Fuel Prices At Russian Gas Stations As Oil Price Drops
Bloomberg—Getty Images An OAO Rosneft gas station near the Ostankino TV tower displaying the colors of the Russian national flag in Moscow, Russia, on Dec. 2, 2014.

Despite its wealth of oil and gas, Russia isn’t the only source capable of meeting Europe’s needs

The European Commission (EC) plans to tighten its relations with several nations, including Turkey, as a part of the Continent’s effort to lessen its dependence on Russian for its energy security.

In a statement on March 11, the EC said it “intends to strengthen EU-Turkey energy relations by establishing a strategic energy partnership” because “[a] stronger and more united EU can engage more constructively with its partners, to their mutual benefit.”

Two weeks earlier at EC headquarters in Brussels, the commission unveiled its Energy Union Package seeking greater coordination among the European Union’s member states to permit a free exchange of energy from one to another to ensure a secure supply for all citizens of the EU.

Read more: Azerbaijan Eyeing Gas Opportunity In Europe

At that time, the EC specifically spoke of its goal to reduce its reliance on energy from Russia, which has been hit by EU and US sanctions for annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and supporting separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. EU customers get about one-third of their gas supplies from Russia, and half of that flows through pipelines in Ukraine.

“As part of a revitalized European energy and climate diplomacy,” the March 11 statement said, “the EU will use all its foreign policy instruments to establish strategic energy partnerships with increasingly important producing and transit countries or regions such as Algeria and Turkey, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, the Middle East, Africa and other potential suppliers.”

Turkey is the key, however, according to Marco Giuli, who studies energy issues at the European Policy Center, a Brussels think tank. “European policymakers have been trying to find a more diverse gas supplier since the ’90s,” he told the International Business Times, “but right now there is more intense momentum for that to happen. To Eastern Europe especially, it’s absolutely critical.”

Read more: This Is Why The EU Energy Union Will Fail

In fact, despite its wealth of oil and gas, Russia isn’t the only source capable of meeting Europe’s needs. There are generous deposits of the two fuels northeast of Turkey in the Caspian Sea basin and beyond. And coincidentally they provide a kind of balance between supply and demand.

These regions hold about 65 percent of the world’s total known oil and gas reserves, and countries west of Turkey consume 65 percent of the world’s oil and gas. Turkey’s geographical position, combined with its political and military ties to the West, makes it the obvious choice for a stable energy channel.

If the EC’s plans bear fruit, Turkey would become a major transit country for energy because it already is about to begin building the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline, which is part of the region’s Southern Gas Corridor. That pathway would carry gas from Azerbaijan in the east to Greece in the west, and eventually to Albania and Italy.

Read more: Europe Overtakes Asia As LNG’s Hottest Market

This role may lead Turkey to formally join the Energy Community, which was created in 2005 to extend the EU’s energy market to countries in Southeastern Europe and beyond that aren’t EU members. Turkey has limited its association with the community to observer status because of its concerns about the group’s policies on regulations, competition and trade.

The membership in the Energy Community now includes Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine. Like Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and Norway are observers.

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

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