President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated his commitment to build Kanal Istanbul, an artificial canal, while also dismissing Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu’s objections to the project.
“We are sure that those who object to Kanal Istanbul have no information or idea about what the project is,” Erdoğan said during the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a rail line for a metro in Istanbul on Jan. 18, adding that Istanbul’s projects are too important to be left to the hands of local authorities.
“We won’t allow the blocking of the beneficial projects that we are trying to bring to life when we support every beneficial work carried out in Istanbul,” he also said.
With Kanal Istanbul – Erdoğan’s “crazy project” – the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) aims to open an artificial seaway between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea.
If completed, the artificial seaway will be a 43-kilometer-long and 400-meter-wide canal crossed by six bridges.
The project has been criticized for possibly paving the way for land rent at the expense of the environment – a criticism that intensified after reports of land purchase by the mother of Qatar Emir, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, were confirmed by Erdoğan.
Following years of AKP rule, Istanbul is currently ruled by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), with Mayor İmamoğlu being a staunch opponent of Kanal Istanbul.
Erdoğan’s remarks came in response to İmamoğlu’s criticism of Kanal Istanbul.
İmamoğlu on Jan. 17 slammed the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report of the artificial canal, saying that they will object to the decision.
On Jan. 15, the mayor handed Erdoğan a letter regarding Kanal Istanbul – a move quickly dismissed by the Turkish President.
“There is nothing to be discussed for us. The people backed this project. We will build Kanal Istanbul despite those engaging in blind enmity,” Erdoğan said.