Turkey launches canal project linking Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea

Turkish government launches canal project linking Black Sea and Mediterranean despite environmental and local concerns.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan laid the cornerstone of the “Kanal Istanbul” project near Istanbul on Saturday to begin construction of a 45-kilometer man-made canal linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara.

Erdogan announced that the project will usher in a new era for Istanbul and Turkey. This will be a new page in Turkey’s development,” he said. We will leap forward on the road to this development,” he said. “This will save the Bosphorus route in Istanbul.”

“The Istanbul Canal will give Turkey an additional sea link to the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on top of the Bosphorus, the busiest sea route in the world. Erdogan said the new canal would be more efficient, faster and safer.

But Ekrem Imamoglu, the opposition mayor of Istanbul, has voiced his opposition to the new canal. He warned that the new canal project would jeopardize the city’s water supply and cause greater environmental harm to the delicate balance of interconnected local seas.

The Turkish government says the necessary studies have been conducted. But most of Turkey’s major banks have refused to provide loans for the estimated $65 billion construction cost of the new canal, citing the argument that only environmentally sustainable projects can be financed.

Erdogan also said that the new canal is not subject to the International Montreux Convention, adopted in 1936, which limits the tonnage of foreign warships entering the Black Sea and stipulates that foreign warships cannot stay in the Black Sea for more than 21 days.

Russia believes the International Montreux Convention is crucial to limiting NATO warships’ access to the Black Sea and could lead to tensions between Turkey and Russia.