Two big projects for Turkey’s future

Two big projects for Turkey’s future

Turkey has finalized two record-breaking economic tenders on May 3 amid the economic crisis in Europe.

The tender for Istanbul’s third airport secured 22.15 billion euros (plus 18 percent tax) revenue for the Turkish budget for 25 years starting from 2017, when the airport is set to be operative. This is a record-breaking amount for the Turkish economy; it goes beyond the capacity of the Turkish banking sector, too. A consortium of four experienced Turkish construction companies, namely Limak, Cengiz, Mapa, Kolin and Kalyon won the tender to build one of the biggest airports in the world near the Black Sea coast of the European quarters of Istanbul.

Turkish Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım, who spoke right after the auction was finalized, said that with Istanbul’s third airport tender, the country’s 2023 target (that is the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic) would have a big step forward. Soon the minister is planning to open the first railway crossing under the Bosphorus to connect the European and Asian shores of Istanbul, also to provide uninterrupted rail transportation between Beijing and London. With that crossing the speed train will be operative between Istanbul and Ankara and a number of other cities in Turkey with the target of extending the rails to the Georgian border in the northeast and to the Syrian and Iranian borders in the south; Iran being a totally different story. The construction of a third bridge over the Bosphorus has also started. The third airport in Istanbul with its six tarmacs could change the center of gravity of the transportation picture of both the European and Asian (and African) picture.

The other big story for the Turkish (and regional) economy on Friday, May 3 was the deal signed between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan about building Turkey’s second nuclear power plant in Sinop, on Turkey’s central Black Sea coast. That is a 22 billion-dollar project, again with the model applied for the Russians, who assumed the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear plant in Akkuyu on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast last year; those who construct it will have the dominant share and will operate the power plant, thus taking all the responsibility. Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız has been trying hard to have the maximum technology transfer from the Japanese for the Sinop plant for some time. Ankara wants to take the advantage of Japan’s (and the Americans and French who are working with the Japanese on this project) upgraded technology after the Fukushima leak due to the 2011 earthquake. The technology transfer, it appears, will not be limited to nuclear power plant technology but will involve a conceptual offset basket. When completed, the two nuclear power plants are expected to supply 8 to 10 percent of Turkey’s 2023 electricity needs; an important amount for a growing country that has to import most of its energy sources; Russia and Iran being two main sources of oil and natural gas as two neighbors.

The week has closed with big economic projects. Next week is likely to be the stage of two big political projects linked to each other. The parliamentary work to write a new Constitution has come to a crossroads and the pullout of the militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is expected to start on May 8, as a part of the dialogue to put an end to Turkey’s painful Kurdish problem.