The State Hydraulics Works (DSI) has invited seven international companies to design the $270 million Yesilcay water supply scheme for Istanbul (MEED 27:5:94). The contract will be financed from an $80 million loan from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. The seven consultants are the US’ CH2M and Black & Veach, Sweden’s Sweco, France’s Safege, Germany’s Lahmeyer, the Netherlands’ Nedeco and the UK’s Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners. A feasibility study for the project has been completed by Japan’s Nippon Koei.

Prime Minister Tansu Ciller left for the US on 24 May for talks with the IMF and US officials. The IMF is finalising details of a $400 million- 450 million standby facility (MEED 27:5:94). The visit also gave the prime minister an opportunity to see her husband Ozer, who has left for the US because of what Ciller described as mud-slinging by the Turkish press. Local press reports allege that Ozer Ciller wields considerable power and was behind the dismissal of a senior Turkish Development Bank official and a secret scheme to move government funds. But Ciller told the daily Hurriyet that her husband had ‘made an enormous sacrifice’ in leaving and appealed to the media to leave him in peace. ‘If you do not you will upset our family stability,’ she said.

Turkey has backed down from its demands for rigid controls on shipping in the Bosporus (see Regional Focus).

Prime Minister Tansu Ciller has unveiled plans to open the political arena to some groups barred from politics by the former military regime. In democratisation measures unveiled on 18 May, all restrictions on political activity by academics, students, labour unions and associations will be lifted. It is also planned to lower the voting age to 18 from 21 and to allow members of parliament to switch parties. The measures require parliamentary approval. Analysts said the extent of the changes was limited and necessary to maintain support from Ciller’s social democrat allies. ‘If there is nothing about repealing laws that restrict human rights…that democratisation will be worthless,’ Reuters quotes Human Rights Foundation of Turkey head Mahmut Ongoren saying.

The 1,500 Turkish troops to be deployed in central Bosnia will be based away from Serb lines, UN officials say. The deployment of Turkish troops is a sensitive issue for Serbia and other Balkan states. The troops are expected to arrive by July.