A new canal is to run several kilometers long and parallel to the Bosporus. The Turkish President Erdogan started the construction project today. Critics fear environmental damage.
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan started a controversial mammoth construction project in Istanbul on Saturday, the “Istanbul Canal”. “Today we are opening a new chapter in the history of Turkey’s development,” said Erdogan at a ceremony during which he laid the foundation stone for a first bridge over the canal.
The Istanbul Canal is Erdogan’s most ambitious and controversial infrastructure project to date. The channel is said to run parallel to the Bosphorus, which connects the Black Sea with the Marmara Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. According to the government, the 45 kilometer long canal is necessary to relieve the important waterway.
“Important role in world trade”
In his speech at the laying of the foundation stone for the bridge, Erdogan said, with a view to the many ship accidents in the Bosporus, that the new canal should above all ensure the “safety” of Istanbul’s residents. He should also give Turkey a more important role in world trade.
The project was officially approved in March. In addition to environmental damage, critics of the Istanbul Canal fear above all that the billion-dollar project could undermine the Montreux Treaty. The international shipping agreement of 1936 regulates the passage in the Bosporus and in the Dardanelles. Among other things, it guarantees civil ships passage in times of war and peace.
Ekrem Imamoglu, the Istanbul mayor, criticized the laying of the foundation stone in advance as a “deception”. The bridge has nothing to do with the canal, but is part of a motorway project planned well in advance. There have been plans to build the bridge since 2006.