Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has made a statement assuring that the Istanbul Canal will be completed in at least six years.
The project will connect the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, leading to further access to the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Erdoğan also said that the new canal will have areas on its two banks where up to 500,000 people can live and work.
He also noted that the area would be earthquake-proof and offer heightened security for the ships that pass through it.
Erdoğan’s project is not without its detractors. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Meral Akşener, leaders of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the İYİ (Good) Party, said that they would not pay back investor’s loans towards the construction of the canal if they were to become leaders during its construction. Erdoğan blasted them in his statement:
“They are so unbalanced that they are now threatening the countries from where we want to lure investments as if threatening businessmen and bankers were not enough. ‘We won’t pay your money if you loan credit’ they say. They have no idea what a state is and how to run it.
“It’s ironic that those who have not fulfilled their responsibility towards Istanbul are blabbing around the Istanbul Canal. They argue the project has not been sufficiently discussed. We have disclosed this project 12 years ago and discussed it since then.”
Erdogan’s controversial Istanbul Canal
Turkey’s approval of plans to develop the shipping canal in Istanbul, which has been compared to the Panama or Suez Canals, has also opened up debate about the 1936 Montreux Convention, along with the opposition from various political leaders.
A letter signed by more than 100 retired admirals warned about a possible threat to a treaty governing the use of Turkey’s key waterways.
The admirals said in their letter that apart from its environmental impact, the new canal venture could undermine the Montreux accord.
The Convention guarantees the free passage through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits for civilian vessels in times of both peace and war.
It also regulates the use of the strait by military vessels from non-Black Sea nations.
The Canal would allow ships to transit between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea without passing through part of the straits that are covered by the treaty.
The declaration has drawn strong reactions from the government and officials.
Presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın said the statement is “reminiscent of coup periods” and made the former Navy men “a laughingstock.
“Know your place and stay where you are,” he added.
“These retirees, who’ve not been seen for years, are creating chaos with their agendas,” Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop charged.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the admirals should not use their ranks and uniforms as a means to push their political rhetoric.