Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said warships will be able to use a planned multibillion-dollar canal bisecting Istanbul, possibly undercutting a 20th-century agreement meant to ensure stability and security in the Black Sea region, ONA reports citing Bloomberg.
Instead of crossing the narrow Bosporus strait, Erdogan said military ships will instead be able to use Canal Istanbul, which will similarly link the Black and Marmara seas. The project is meant to ease shipping traffic and the risk of accidents in the Bosporus, which runs through the middle of Turkey’s biggest city. It could create jobs for 10,000 people as well as a new city along its route.
Speaking in an interview with CNN-Turk television late Sunday, Erdogan didn’t elaborate on whether any limitations would be imposed on the passage of warships through Canal Istanbul.
Turkey could be courting another controversy with one of the most ambitious projects of Erdogan’s almost two decades in power. After years of work since it was first unveiled in 2011, the ruling party has said the canal has finally become ripe for a tender process.
The option presented by the planned 45-kilometer (28-mile) canal for warships, including navies from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, adds a significant political dimension to what Erdogan dubbed his “crazy project.” It’s already mired in questions over financing and its impact on the environment.