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Ilisu Dam project in Turkey suffers another blow as main financiers pull out.

Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, has ended its financial backing for the controversial Ilisu Dam project following continuing pressure from environmentalists and human rights groups.

UBS, the main financiers of the project, said that the decisive factor behind the termination was the unsatisfactory general progress of the project. "Until now there has been no definitive decision on what accompanying measures are to be taken to minimise the social and environmental impact of the project," it said in a statement released on Wednesday.

The withdrawal of UBS is the latest in a series of blows to the controversial $1.5bn project. In November 2001, the main contractors British construction firm Balfour Beatty along with Impregilo of Italy also withdrew citing similar concerns. Balfour Beatty was seeking $200 million in export credit guarantees from the British government, which said it was "minded" to approve the application.

Other companies including the Anglo-French firm, Alstom, and Austria’s VA Tech remain involved in the dam. However, considering that both the primary financiers and contractors have now ended their support, the likelihood of the Ilisu project going forward is highly remote.

Ilisu Dam Campaign Chairman Kerim Yildiz, expressed his delight, "After years of campaigning, this victory confirms what we have been saying all along that the social and environmental impact of the dam would be disastrous. Both the main financiers and the main contractors now agree with us; yet the British and other governments would still be willing to use public money to support it. Even now, British and French governments are considering supporting the Yusufeli Dam in Turkey, raising identical concerns to the Ilisu Dam. We have had more success in persuading corporations and banks not to act unethically than we have had with the British government."

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