Erdogan to start building $ 15 billion canal project in June
(Bloomberg) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said construction of a multibillion-dollar canal, an alternative to Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait, will begin in late June as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the economy troubled country.
Erdogan’s announcement on Saturday came a decade after he first revealed his ‘mad project’ and at a time when his support has reached an all-time low. The 45-kilometer Istanbul Canal is said to cost around $ 15 billion and connect the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It aims to facilitate maritime traffic and the risk of accidents in the Bosporus, which divides Turkey’s largest city in two.
Erdogan is betting that the construction of the canal and the rise of new towns along its route will create thousands of jobs and wealth that will significantly boost the country’s economic growth and reverse the trend of its popularity as the elections approach. 2023 presidential elections. Discontent grew over the Erdogan government’s management of the economy and allegations of corruption by a mafia boss, which he rejected.
During the president’s 18-year rule, Turkey has invested tens of billions of dollars in giant infrastructure projects, including Istanbul’s new airport, a new Bosphorus bridge and huge city hospitals.
The planned waterway is expected to create a new city of half a million, with several bridges connecting the two sides.
“We will lay the foundations for the Istanbul Canal at the end of June,” Erdogan said at the opening ceremony of a television tower on the anniversary of the capture of Istanbul by the Ottoman Turks in 1453 on Saturday, a day after the inauguration of a giant. mosque in central Taksim square of Istanbul. “We are going to build two cities on the right and left of the Istanbul canal. With these two cities, “Istanbul’s beauty and strategic importance will increase,” he said.
In order to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the economy, his government is struggling to open the economy and revive the tourism industry by stepping up vaccinations. The aim is to reduce the current account deficit and alleviate the suffering of companies who have complained about insufficient government support and families who suffer from soaring inflation.
Erdogan dismissed concerns from his political rivals that the project would hurt taxpayers, the environment and undermine a 20th-century deal meant to ensure stability and security in the Black Sea. Erdogan said Turkey would not leave the 1936 Montreux Convention, but said warships could use the canal.
Opposition to cut support for the canal project if Erdogan loses
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, who is seen as a potential future challenger to Erdogan, is strongly opposed to the project, saying it would “wipe out” the water resources of Istanbul’s 16 million residents, ruin the city. nature of the province beyond any reparation and would make it unlivable. Turkish prosecutors on Friday demanded the imprisonment of Imamoglu, whose victory in 2019 ended more than a quarter of a century of control of Istanbul by Erdogan’s party and his predecessors, accused of insulting the electoral watchdog of the country.
“The people of Istanbul elected Imamoglu on March 31 to prevent the destruction of the greenery, the city from being buried in cement, the people from being treated with shame and ultimately block the formation of this bizarre system called the Istanbul channel, ”Meral Aksener, the leader of the opposition Iyi party who backed Imamoglu’s candidacy, said at a competing ceremony marking the capture of Istanbul on Saturday.
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