Turkey renews its project to build a canal between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea
The Turkish government on Saturday announced its intention to move forward with construction of a controversial new navigation channel connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, intended to ease the pressure on the existing Bosphorus.
The plan comes just three months after retailers and consumers around the world gained a new appreciation for the delicate balance of global logistics flows when Evergreen Marine’s “Ever Given” container ship got stuck laterally in the Suez Canal, pushing freight backwards for weeks.
Turkey’s new channel would also accommodate cargo ships sailing in the Eastern Mediterranean, although it would affect traffic going to ports far north of Egypt, located in countries like Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine. , Russia, Georgia and Turkey. Currently, ships departing from these locations must cross the 19-mile Bosphorus Strait located in Istanbul, Turkey, where overcrowding often forces ships to anchor and wait their turn.
In comparison, the Istanbul Canal would stretch for 28 miles, although about a third of that distance would cross existing natural waterways. Turkish officials say the huge public works project would be self-financing through fees charged to ships using the new route. “With the canal, Turkey will be among the main logistics powers in the world. 500,000 people will be employed and an economic contribution of 28 billion dollars will be made. Turkey will become a leader in global maritime trade”, Adil Karaismailoğlu, Turkish Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, said in a statement.
Despite these plans, critics have argued for years that the government overestimated revenue from vessel transit and would likely face considerable challenges in funding the works, due to environmental impacts such as the displacement of residents currently living on the land and the destruction of two of the city’s precious water reservoirs.
“Canal Istanbul was undertaken to inject money into pro-government businesses and as a real estate program. The project is not necessary for commercial or naval maritime purposes ”, Yörük Işık, a researcher at the Middle East Institute, a Washington, DC-based non-partisan think tank, said in an analysis.
The project could also run counter to political considerations as it could allow Turkey to circumvent the Montreux Convention, a 1936 agreement that guarantees the free passage of maritime traffic through the Bosporus but restricts military ships, according to the report. Middle East Institute.
Despite these challenges, Turkish officials remained optimistic about the project’s chances and its impact on the country’s economy. “One of the most important pillars of Turkey’s growth vision over the past 19 years is the claim we have made in terms of transport, communication and logistics infrastructure,” said Karaismailoğlu. “As the country that dominates the most important trade corridors of the developing world, Turkey will become the most important logistics center in the world with the Istanbul Canal. Thus, the Black Sea will become a commercial lake for Turkey.