Turkey unveils route of 45-kilometer ‘Istanbul Canal’

Above, a US Navy destroyer sails on Bosphorus Strait on its way to the Black Sea. Turkey hopes the new 45-kilometer canal would ease the pressure on Bosphorus, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. (Reuters)
Updated 15 January 2018
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Turkey unveils route of 45-kilometer ‘Istanbul Canal’

ISTANBUL: The Turkish government on Monday unveiled the route of its planned new canal for Istanbul, a hugely ambitious 45-kilometer project designed to be its answer to the famed artificial shipping lanes in Panama or Egypt’s Suez.
The project, first announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while he was prime minister in 2011, is by far the most complex of a string of new ventures for the city.
The government argues it will create attractive new living areas and take pressure off the Bosphorus Strait that splits the European and Asian sides of the city and is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
Transport and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan said that the canal would begin in the Istanbul district of Kucukcekmece on the Sea of Marmara, where there is already an inland lake.
It will then head north toward the Sazlidere reservoir before emerging into the Black Sea just north of Durusu.
“The aim is to reduce the risks that can arise from vessels in the Bosphorus carrying dangerous materials,” Arslan told a televised news conference.
“Another aim is to create an urban transformation for our citizens in this area... and also to increase the attractiveness of Istanbul as a global metropolis.”
Some environmentalists have warned the project risks wrecking the maritime ecosystem and could also increase the risk of earthquakes in an area of high seismic activity.
But Arslan insisted that all precautions had been taken, saying the route had been chosen only after thorough earthquake risk assessment and computer modeling studies were undertaken.
Erdogan, whose rise to national political prominence began while he served as mayor of Istanbul, is presiding over a string of ambitious infrastructure projects in Turkey and especially its largest city.
With Erdogan fondly dubbing the schemes his “crazy projects,” the last years have already seen the opening of metro and road tunnels underneath the Bosphorus as well as a third bridge across the waterway.
Construction of a massive new airport is meanwhile proceeding, with the facility set to see its first flight land in late February before opening officially in October.


Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

Updated 21 March 2019
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Erdogan’s ‘vile’ comments on Christchurch mosques shootings dismissed as not representative of Muslims

  • Turkish president has threatened to "send home in coffins" visitors from Australia, New Zealand
  • Aussie and NZ leaders want Turkey to explain the "vile" and "offensive" remarks

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was condemned on Wednesday for “vile, offensive and reckless” comments after last week’s Christchurch mosque terrorist attacks.

Australia summoned the Turkish ambassador in Canberra to explain the remarks, and New Zealand dispatched its foreign minister to Ankara to “set the record straight, face to face.”

Brenton Tarrant, 28, an Australian white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after he shot dead 50 people during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Erdogan, in election campaign rallies for his AK Party, urged New Zealand to restore the death penalty and said Turkey would make the killer pay if New Zealand did not.

He said anti-Muslim Australians who came to Turkey would be “sent back in coffins, like their grandfathers at Gallipoli,” and he accused Australian and New Zealand forces of invading Turkey during the First World War “because it is Muslim land.”

But an international affairs scholar in Riyadh said Erdogan’s comments should not be taken as representative of Muslims. 

"He is a propagandist and an unpredictable politician,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News. “He keeps saying these things and then he issues an apology. Right now, he is making these incendiary comments to win elections.”

It was inappropriate behavior for a head of state, Al-Shehri said. “Which president would use such language and issue these kind of comments?”

In his speech, Erdogan said that the Gallipoli peninsula campaign in 1915 was in fact an attempt by British colonial forces to relieve their Russian allies. The attack was a military disaster, and more than 11,000 Australian and New Zealand forces were killed. Thousands of people from both countries travel each year to Turkey for war memorial services, and the anniversary is marked on Anzac Day every April 25.

“Remarks have been made by the Turkish President Erdogan that I consider highly offensive to Australians and highly reckless in this very sensitive environment,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said after summoning the Turkish ambassador and dismissing the “excuses” offered.

“I am expecting, and I have asked, for these comments to be clarified, to be withdrawn.” Morrison described claims about Australia and New Zealand’s response to the white supremacist attack as “vile.” He accused Erdogan of betraying the promise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to forge peace between the two countries.

A memorial at Gallipoli carries Ataturk’s words: “There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets ... after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

“Ataturk sought to transform his country into a modern nation and an embracing nation, and I think these comments are at odds with that spirit,” Morrison said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her deputy, Foreign Minister Winston Peters, would travel to Turkey to seek clarification of Erdogan’s comments. “He is going there to set the record straight, face-to-face,” she said.