April 28, 2011

Turkey Plans New Canal for Istanbul

ISTANBUL — Heating up the campaign for the coming parliamentary elections, Turkey’s governing party on Wednesday unveiled a proposal to build a canal parallel to Istanbul’s Bosporus that would be longer than either the Panama or Suez canals.

Details of the plan, which has been speculated about privately in recent months as the “crazy project” of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had been kept under wraps, but on Wednesday it immediately became the centerpiece of his party’s bid for a third term in power.

The pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party, known as the AKP, foresees a 28- to 30-mile canal connecting the Black Sea in the north to the Marmara Sea in the southwest that would be a safer alternative for heavy tanker ships than the natural Bosporus straits, which run through the heart of Istanbul, a city of around 15 million people.

The plan aims to divert ship traffic along the Bosporus that sometimes numbers 149 tankers a day carrying natural gas, crude oil, chemicals and other industrial goods.

Read more on The New York Times: Turkey Plans New Canal for Istanbul

The “Istanbul Canal” would cut through the city’s European side, measuring 40 to 50 kilometers long, about 150 meters wide and 25 meters deep, Erdoğan told a packed and raucous crowd that had assembled at the Istanbul Congress Center to hear the prime minister announce his long-secret “crazy project” for Istanbul.

More than 1,000 people – most of them members of Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP – attended the speech, often interrupting the prime minister to shout out his praises and chant slogans like “Turkey is proud of you.”

In his speech, Erdoğan talked about his “dreams” for Istanbul, making comparisons with the dreams of people such as Fatih Sultan Mehmet, the conqueror of the city, and prominent 16th-century Ottoman architect Sinan before unveiling his plan for the second strait.

“There have been always big dreams behind the big steps and big victories in history. And now we have a dream for our nation and Istanbul. We are rolling up our sleeves for ‘Kanal Istanbul,’ one of the greatest projects of the century that will outshine the Panama and Suez canals,” Erdoğan told the audience.

The project, he said, will transform Istanbul’s geography into “two peninsulas and one island.”

Read more on Hurriyet Daily News: A 'second Bosphorus' to be built in Istanbul


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