CHP leader accuses the gov’t of ‘betraying’ Istanbul over canal project
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Dec. 19 accused the government of “betraying” the metropolis Istanbul with the planned Canal Istanbul project. He also claimed that the project will not be actualized because there will be “a change of government in the next elections.”
“We have to protect the history and culture of Istanbul. We have to solve all the problems of this city. But now, a multiplied betrayal is upcoming [for Istanbul]. Everyone is objecting, but one person says, ‘I will do it’? He says, ‘I will merge the Black Sea with Marmara.’ With what logic? With which money will you do [a] feasibility [study]?” Kılıçdaroğlu said, slamming President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for pursuing such a project.
“No, you cannot do this, and you will not be able to do it. You will leave in the [next] elections anyway,” he added.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks came during a speech at a meeting on local governments and tourism.
“No one dares to allocate money [for Canal Istanbul]. Not even a penny allocated will be given. Aren’t they getting enough from betraying Istanbul?” he said.
“How can you look at history and culture as a means for profit? How can history and culture be turned into a concrete jungle?” he said.
Canal Istanbul is a mega-infrastructure project involving the construction of a 45-kilometer shipping canal in Istanbul parallel to the Bosphorus Strait. The government says the project will eliminate the risk posed by ships carrying dangerous good through the Bosphorus.
The 45-kilometer (nearly 28-mile) canal, planned for the west of the city center on the European side of Istanbul, would have a capacity of 150-160 vessels a day.
Kılıçdaroğlu also underlined that in the contemporary times, the competition is not solely limited to countries, but it exists between the world’s metropolises as well.
“If the number of tourists visiting Paris is higher than Istanbul, we should do a self-criticism. We have to figure out what’s missing?” he said.
The aesthetics of a city is very important, the CHP leader said. He added that unplanned urbanization would cause the city to lose its “identity,” citing Istanbul as an example.
“The back of Sultanahmet and Hagia Sofia is filled with concrete, [with] high-rise buildings. We understand the significance of city aesthetics when we see this picture,” he said.
The CHP chief also criticized the construction works done in Istanbul, saying not even “one single tree is left” in the metropolis.
“Where will hundreds and thousands [of people] gather and celebrate? At the city square. There is no city that does not have a square. Why would a tourist visit [Turkey] if you ban city squares?” he said, accusing the government of low tourist numbers.