President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is famous for mega-projects. Under his leadership, Turkey built one of the largest airports in the world in Istanbul, the most complicated tunnel under the Bosphorus Strait and one of the largest suspension bridges connecting Asia to Europe. Critics have accused him of completing his own legacy with these grand projects, but most of them have been popular with Turkish audiences.
None of them sparked the controversy that now surrounds Erdogan’s latest oversized venture: an artificial canal, titled Canal Istanbul, parallel to the Bosphorus between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.
The project has been challenged by environmentalists who fear it will destroy Istanbul’s natural habitat and erode freshwater reservoirs. Others questioned the financial viability of the project, with the Turkish government providing various estimates ranging from $ 12.7 billion to $ 25 billion.
The fate of a 1936 is also at stake. Montreux Convention, an international agreement regulating traffic through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles Strait.
Things peaked last week, when Speaker of Parliament Mustafa Sentop suggested Erdogan had the power to withdraw from the treaty. He later claimed he was simply taking stock of presidential powers and not politics, but it was enough to alarm a group of former Turkish admirals to issue a joint statement opposing the idea and arguing that the convention was essential for maintaining peace in the dark. Wed.
In turn, this prompted Erdogan to summon his cabinet and senior officials for an unscheduled meeting. Ten of the signatories of the declaration have been arrested, the president’s communications director accusing them of insinuating that the government should be overthrown.
Erdogan has since said he had no intention to repeal the convention. But he did not explain how he intends to reconcile the economy of his dream of a canal with the realities imposed by the treaty.
The Istanbul Canal should be built under the build-own-operate investment model, to avoid a drain on state resources in the event of high stress due to the pandemic. But to recoup the required investment, the private entrepreneur would need a significant stream of income – and the convention makes that impossible.
According to its terms, Turkey cannot prevent ships from using the Dardanelles and Bosphorus sea lanes, which means it cannot force transit ships to use the proposed canal. Turkey is allowed to charge only nominal fees for these crossings, currently averaging around $ 4,500 per vessel. Only a significantly lower transit charge would provide an incentive to use the Istanbul Canal, and the difference would have to be offset by a higher volume of traffic.
But the trends are going in the opposite direction: over the past decade, the number of ships in transit from the Bosporus has increased from 53,000 to 38,000 per year, mainly due to the construction of new pipelines. As more countries seek to reduce their dependence on hydrocarbons, tanker traffic is likely to continue to decline.
One solution to the financing dilemma would be for Turkey to provide cash guarantees for the construction and operation of the canal, dramatically increasing Ankara’s public debt, already inflated to $ 270 billion. The other is to withdraw from the Montreux Convention and force transit ships to use the new canal.
But that would pose political problems at home and diplomatic problems abroad. The signing of the convention is seen by many in Turkey as a historic achievement, in which a young republic took sovereign control of its sea lanes and ended the international mandate imposed by the great powers after WWI. be easy for a nationalist president.
To date, the convention serves as a diplomatic instrument for Turkey to defuse the conflict in the Black Sea. It imposes severe tonnage limits on military vessels from non-coastal states passing through the Turkish Strait. This enabled Ankara to forbid the passage hospital ships of the US Navy Mercy and Comfort at the height of the Russian-Georgian conflict of 2008. The treaty also constrains Russia by requiring Moscow to provide advance notification requirements for the passage of its warships to the seas warmer.
Finally, it is not certain that a simple withdrawal from the convention would give Turkey more power to control traffic in its straits. Other countries are likely to invoke the customary law of the seas to claim the free movement of their ships.
As the mega-projects unfold, this one is likely to pose more problems for the Turkish president than prestige.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Editorial Board or of Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Bobby ghosh at [email protected]
What Are The Main Benefits Of Comparing Car Insurance Quotes Online
to request, modification Contact us at Here or [email protected]