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Interpretation of Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant via Green Theory

Green Theory is a theory in the group of critical theories. This theory is a relatively new theory compared to other theories in the International Relations discipline but the fact that it is new does not show that the green theory is rootless and weak. On the contrary, it shows that people are dealing with issues that have the potential to influence their lives. In this respect, the green theory is one of the most effective bridges linking high and low politics. The green theory is distinct from all other theories of international relations with its rejection of a human-centered approach rather than a human-centered approach, it adopts an environmental-oriented approach. The tendency to think independently from political borders is embodied in the green theory emphasizing transnational relations. For the continuation of humanity, the environment must also be protected. Everyone is aware of this. However, the situation is ignored and the environment is harmed. The progress of humanity is getting more modernized with each passing day increases the damages to the environment. With the rapid industrialization of Western economies after World War II, damage to the environment in many countries has started to increase. Sensitivity to the environmental problems that began as a green movements between the years of 1960-1970 began to transform from a social movement to political actions. In the process of globalization of environmental problems, there was a paradigm discussion in the discipline of International Relations. In this process, environmental problems were politicized and included in the discipline. Later, in the period close to the end of the Cold War, the environmental problems in the discipline were placed in a so-called high politics, and it was included in the epistemological literature in the discipline.

In the 1960s there was public recognition of the global environmental crisis arising from the ‘tragedy of the commons’, which is the idea that as self- interested individuals, humans will overuse shared resources such as land, fresh water and fish. In the 1970s the first United Nations conference on the subject was held and by the 1980s green political parties and public policies had emerged. This coincided with a demand for a green theory to help explain and understand these political issues (Dyer, 2018). In addition, the environmental movements in this period are intertwined with the war and anti-nuclear movements. In the late 1980s, women and peace movements played a role in the formation of green policies. In these years, many green parties have been established at local, national and regional levels, focusing on four main issues: ecological responsibility, social justice, nonviolence, deepened democracy. The first wave of the theory highlighted social institutions such as the state and the market. The second wave highlighted concepts such as environmental rights, environmental democracy, environmental activism, environmental citizenship, and green states.

Green political theory can be understood as a form of applied political theory, and here it shares this feature with other ideologies all of which seek to make a difference and change the world or society according to their particular political principles (Barry, 2014). The topics in the agenda of the Green Theory have been evaluated within the major theories of International Relations such as Realism and Liberalism. Realists discussed environmental issues as more security. They believe that scarce resources are the cause of conflict for states. Neoliberal Institutionalism holds people superior to nature, so they look instrumental to nature as Realists. They do not question human dominance of nature. They say that collective action between states and international institutionalization is important to address environmental problems. They highlight international regimes. According to many Green theorists, companies, local authorities, financial institutions, social groups and individuals should be treated as important actors. Green theorists focus on the idea of ecocentrism. Instead of criminalizing a few states of environmental pollution, they think we should focus on global consumption as much as global production and investment.

Ecocentrism is based upon four main features which explains its position towards the environment and thus towards shaping up the world politics. First is Resource Conservation which aims to garner full interest in non-human world not just by understanding the economic use of the resources but their conservation also. Second is Human Welfare ecology which recognizes the interests of non-human community. Third would be preservation, which is the right non-use of resources and fourth is animal preservation where it treats all species, ecosystems as a whole (Essays, 2018). Feminists believe that male domination over women leads to dominance over nature and that these problems can be overcome by breaking male domination. Postcolonials emphasize that Europe has produced serious environmental damage while consuming the resources of the third world countries under colonial order, and this leads to uneven development and some regions of the world. As a result, in order to better examine the basic characteristics of the theory, it is better to understand the difference between environmentalism and green theory. Environmentalism is basically problem solving within the system. But the green theory argues that the system must be changed completely. While environmentalism is a focus on problem solving, the green theory is a critical approach to changing the problem generating system. Environmentalism represents a ground between green theory and mainstream theories. Another important difference is that the green theory is independent of the Marxist theory, and its most important feature is its inin environmental-oriented, not human-oriented. Environmentalism advocates that environmental impacts must be taken into account, as people are dependent on the environment and environmental degradation will jeopardize the continuation of humanity. But in green theory, protecting the environment because of its potential benefits to human beings is a matter of criticism. What is essential in green theory is to protect everything that is contained in the environment by respecting it and not to harm anything on the planet. The green theory acts in a principled stance.

Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant

The term nuclear energy has entered our lives more than 100 years ago and always split people into two. Some believe it will be the end of human race as we know while others think it will help human race thrive in the future. Different Turkish governments have tried to build a nuclear power plant but many projects failed due to varying reasons. Akkuyu project is the most serious one so far and not surprisingly people have different opinions (Aytekin, 2017). According to the intergovernmental agreement, Russia and Turkey's nuclear power plant construction and operation of the 'build-own-operate' will cooperate with the condition. For this purpose, "Akkuyu Nuclear Joint-Stock Company" was established in Ankara. With this project, the Republic of Turkey to give a new impetus to the development of the economy, it is intended to reduce the import of organic energy sources and meet the increasing demand for electricity.

In 2010 the contract was finalized between the Russian and Turkish governments for the Russian state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom to construct Akkuyu’s four reactors. In the wake of the construction protocol, hundreds of Turkish students were sent to Russia to be trained in nuclear power plant operation, following which they were slated to work at the Akkuyu NPP, signing government contracts to serve there for 13 years (Daly, 2018). Preparations for the Akkuyu NPP project began with the agreement signed between Turkey and Russia in 2010. The project is expected to be completed in 2022, with 60 years of operational life. Akkuyu into this to happen, it will be the first nuclear power plant in Turkey. The Akkuyu NPP project belongs to another country and is the first nuclear power plant within the borders of another country. The construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, which draws the reaction of nature defenders and the public, brings many problems and risks with its economic and ecological dimensions. According to the agreement signed with Russia, the fuel to be used in the nuclear power plant will be brought from Russia and the radioactive waste from the power plant will be sent to Russia. Erdogan said the first reactor of the plant is targeted to be operational in 2023 and the plant to be operational by fully 10 percent of Turkey's energy needs will be met. The environmentalist communities in Mersin and the Southern Greek Cypriot Government reacted to the Akkuyu NPP. On the big reactions, Russian Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus Osadchiy reminded that this issue should not be of concern because the latest technology is used, and that there are many nuclear power plants in Russia and France is the first in producing electricity from nuclear power plants. In addition, these nuclear power plants will offer electricity, as well as industry, technology and employment opportunities. It is thought that significant added value will be provided for Turkish industry. In his speech, Putin stated that Russia is a leading country in the nuclear energy sector and that the security standards will be at the highest level and the project will be environmentally friendly. When all the units of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant come into play, it is thought that the electricity demand of country can be significantly met and thus will contribute to energy security and play an important role in the fight against climate change.

Interpretation of Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant via Green Theory

With the development of technology, people have caused serious damage to nature and natural resources for centuries. Especially after the Industrial Revolution this damage has increased more. Nowadays, nature is seriously damaged. Many countries creating various environmental policies. However, they do not give up the use of nuclear power plants which seriously threaten nature. The Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power plant project and with the treaty between Russia and Turkey. Turkey's first nuclear power plant project has the distinction of being. At the same time, it is also evidence that Turkey takes quite wrong decisions. According to the green theorists, the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant will be a great disrespect to nature. Because the duty of states and people is to protect the nature and environment, as well as the natural resources, which are promised to us. For green theorists, the construction of a power plant in Akkuyu will cause numerous irreversible and irreparable damages to the natural habitat. The construction of the nuclear power plant is in Mersin. At the same time, this region is the breeding ground of Mediterranean seals. This will cause serious damage to fish species. There is also the Göksu Delta very close to the same area. This delta also hosts many endemic plant species. In case of construction of a nuclear power plant, these plant species will be destroyed. The Mediterranean region will probably turn into a nuclear waste storage. It is aimed to use water cooled reactors in the plant. The water used for cooling will increase the sea water temperature which will be discharged into the sea again. This will cause serious damage to the marine ecosystem. The use of chlorine in cooling waters will also affect sea creatures. In addition, with this nuclear project, the seagrass meadows, which are the habitats of Mediterranean monk seals and caretta carettas, will be destroyed. According to the signed agreement, it was decided to send radioactive waste from the nuclear power plant to Russia. The fact that the radiation emitting wastes will be sent to Russia via the straits will pose a risk for the straits. According to the green theorists, the proximity of the Akkuyu NPP to the fault line can also have dangerous consequences. In the event of a severe earthquake, the plant may be damaged. This can lead to global disasters such as Chernobyl and Fukushima. In short, Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant will start to destroy nature as soon as it is operational. According to Green theory, Turkey has accepted this project to develop diplomatic relations with Russia but Turkey never cared about the risks of this project. We see that in fact, nature's greatest enemy is the states and their political interests. Therefore, human beings should not be considered before nature. First, there must be nature's interests. In this case, we should first consider the effects of a nuclear power plant on the nature. So, is Turkey really need the nuclear energy? For green theory, the answer is no. In fact, Turkey is a rich country for water, geothermal, biomass, solar and wind energy terms. However, Turkey is using a very low part of this potential. It would be more appropriate to make a comprehensive energy planning instead of establishing nuclear power plants. In this context, the implementation of energy saving and Turkey must demonstrate the energy potential in terms of renewable energy sources.

Ayça AKMARAL / 29.10.2019


Aytekin, N. (2017). Looking For A Common Ground On Construcition Of A Nuclear Power Plant In Turkey: A Review On Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. Retrived from

Barry, J. (2014). Green Political Theory. In V. Geoghegan, & R. Wilford (Eds), Political İdeologies An İntoduction (4 ed, pp. 153-178). London: Routlege.

Daly, J. (July 2018). The Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant and Deepening Turkish-Russian Relations. Retrived from

Dyer, H. (January 2018). Introducing Green Theory in International Relations. Retrived from

Essays, UK. (November 2018). The Green International Relations Theory Politics Essay. Retrieved from


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