Erdoğan says Turkey will hold Canal Istanbul tender in coming weeks
Turkey will hold a tender for Canal Istanbul, a mega-infrastructure project involving the construction of a 45-kilometer shipping canal in Istanbul parallel to the Bosphorus Strait, in the coming weeks, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced.
"Hopefully we will hold the tender in the upcoming weeks and kick off Canal Istanbul. The works for this were not initiated in a week, a month or a year; it was a step taken during the end of my mayoral term. We will actualize this," Erdoğan said.
The president's remarks came during a speech at a meeting for service exporters, at the Istanbul Congress Center.
"They were unable to stop this despite going all lengths. Especially, the person at the helm of the main opposition. We say 'Canal Istanbul' and he says 'You will not be able to do it'," Erdoğan said. He was referring to the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
"We will do this, no matter what you do. On one hand, he is also threatening contractors. He says 'Whoever is in this, should know that will not get their money back when we [come to power].' What does this mean? It is also another thing that you will not [come to power]," Erdoğan said.
Kılıçdaroğlu on Dec. 19 accused the government of "betraying" 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."
"Everyone is objecting, but one person says, ‘I will do it’? He says, ‘I will merge the Black Sea with Marmara.’ With what logic? No, you cannot do this, and you will not be able to do it. You will leave in the [next] elections anyway,” Kılıçdaroğlu had said.
“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 had added.
Known as the “crazy project,” Canal Istanbul has been on the government’s agenda since 2011, but its realization has been delayed several times due to financial problems and environmental concerns.
With the Canal Istanbul, the government is aiming at opening an artificial seaway between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea in order to mitigate the oil tanker traffic through the Bosphorus as well as constructing new earthquake-resistant residential areas along the channel.
Environmentalists have voiced serious concerns about the artificial channel by arguing that the seaway will damage underground water resources of Istanbul and will threaten the Marmara Sea along with other social and urbanization risks.
Economic recovery right on track
Erdoğan also said that Turkey has re-entered the growth process with a 0.9 pct growth rate in the third quarter of 2019.
“All these developments indicate that things are going well, and the economic recovery continues swiftly,” he added.