CHP’s ‘Center Turkey’ project

CHP’s ‘Center Turkey’ project

When you ask which feature is Turkey’s most important in terms of comparative advantages, all foreign investors reply “geographic position.” Turkey’s second advantage is its young population. 

These two features have been engraved in our minds ever since elementary school but somehow we can never make use of them as a country. 

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has combined these two comparative advantages and publicized its proposed project called “Center Turkey.” It is a project to develop a mega city, a logistics hub that would self-administrate and self-develop. 

When I saw the concepts “ecology” and “reverse migration” during the presentation, I contacted CHP economy officials. 

According to what they said, “Clean energy will be used in this mega city. This place will produce its own solar and wind energy.” 

Not a very far-fetched idea. Since there will not be heavy industry there, it is possible that only renewable energy will be used. 

They have specifically excluded heavy industry. “It will not dominate the industrial infrastructure of surrounding cities. On the contrary, it will take their industry infrastructure and open them up to the world markets,” they said.

In other words, it is not a project where cities exclude each other; on the contrary, its one where they integrate.  

They said, “It will be a recycling hub, sensitive to the environment. It will definitely respect ecologic balance.”

If you ask how they will be able to do this, they say they will have a planned solution against urban sprawl and that they will not tolerate any violation of green zones. They said, “It will be the city with the highest ratio of green per capita in the region.”

They added, “This is not only a production and trade center; it is a living space. The same living standard in the world’s quality cities will be the standard of this city. Since this place will be a commerce-focused, cosmopolitan city, we have to offer this standard. Its attractive feature will depend on that a bit.”

I find this project important mostly because of its potential to lift the pressure of migration off Istanbul. But the three million population figure seemed a little too much, frankly. 

They said, “When we say an attraction center, a hub with a population of three million by 2035, we are automatically talking about a major absorption. We envisage global countries will come here. If global companies open offices there, there will be a serious need for qualified human power. Most probably these people will come from developed regions.” 

I asked them, “What about laborers and workers?” Their answer was: “Since there will be research and development and innovation there, certain qualifications will be sought in hiring staff. But, except for that, in light industries, in labor-intensive sectors, intermediate staff will be hired.” 

The third dimension of the project that drew my attention was education.

This place, they said, will be an educational hub. They plan to draw students first from surrounding countries as well as from everywhere else in the world. 

They emphasized that even sending only 15,000 university students abroad for doctoral programs is enough to lay the infrastructure for human resources to work in R&D and innovation. “These young people will get to know their competitors; they will be acquainted with science abroad and when they come back there will be a field opened for them to work.”

There were some who opposed the project, arguing that a city with its own rules would be a region that would suppress the laborer and not secure the worker. However, they are talking about a special economic zone here. We already have free trade zones in Turkey, which are one step behind this model. This self-administrating city will not be exempt from labor laws, I am guessing. 

Having said this, I also have an objection. 

For this project to come true, an uninterrupted railroad passage to Europe is required. This can only be possible with the completion of the third bridge. 

In this case, it looks as if the CHP, as it had signaled beforehand, has accepted the third bridge. 

This, alone, is sad enough.