Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu launched the long-term Action Plan for the Southeastern Anatolia, or GAP Project, on Sunday as part of efforts to help the economic and social development of the southeastern and eastern regions, Anadolu agency reported.
The GAP plan was prepared by Turkish Ministry of Development and it is expected cost of around 27 billion Turkish liras or ($10 billion) by the end of 2018.
In the southeastern city of Mardin, the prime minister announced the five main pillars of the project as economic growth, social development, city planning, infrastructure development, and enhanced institutional capacity.
Davutoglu said the GAP project aims to reduce unemployment to 10.3 percent and help raise the region's exports to around $22 billion by the end of the 2018.
Regarding education, Davutoglu said that the project would build thousands of new classrooms to reduce the number of schoolchildren per class to 33.
As part of the project, an area of 1.1 million hectares will be opened to irrigation and around 5 thousands small and medium sized enterprises in the region will be offered funds to the tune of 58 million Turkish liras or $22 million.
In addition, an 8-thousand-hectar field will be planted and erosion control practices would be implemented in an area of 40 thousand hectares.
Prime Minister Davutoglu also said that the GAP project took into account the needs of the Syrian refugees who had to fled Turkey due to the ongoing civil war. The project plans to provide support to Syrians in education, healthcare and infrastructure.
Turkey hosts over 1.6 million Syrian shelter seekers.
"This great level of development (as a result of the GAP project) would be both an inspiration and source of strength for Syrian and Iraq one day when the ongoing violence disappears in those countries," Davutoglu said.
The GAP project is considered significant also for the possible contributions it would make to Turkey's 'solution process,' which seeks to end terrorism and advance the democratic rights of Kurdish citizens and minority groups.
The first GAP project was launched in 1977 as one of the largest dam and socio-economic development projects in the world.