Kanal Istanbul another neo-Ottoman Erdoğan aspiration - Kathimerini

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Kanal Istanbul project is looking to change the landscape in freight transport and affect the balance of maritime military power in the Mediterranean, Greek newspaper Kathimerini said on Monday.

Through the artificial waterway project, Turkey’s strongman has rolled up his sleeves to change the status quo in the Bosporus by ending free passage of vessels using the strait as set out in the Montreux Convention, it said.

1936 Montreux Convention gives Turkey control over the straits within its borders, and during peacetime guarantees access for civilian vessels. The agreement also limits access of naval warships, helping to protect the Black Sea from militarisation.

The Turkish government is pushing forward with the flagship construction megaproject, a 45-kilometer shipping canal in Istanbul parallel to the Bosporus Strait, despite criticism from the opposition and environmentalists who have said Kanal Istanbul is unnecessary, expensive and environmentally costly.

Its completion will allow Turkey the ability to turn off the tap on oil and gas pipelines and control traffic between the Dardanelles and the Black Sea, in addition to controlling the movement of Western and Russian ships in the area, Kathimerini said.

Erdoğan is looking to make money from Bosporus navigation and upgrade Turkey’s role on the geopolitical chessboard, it said, noting that the president will not hesitate to move forward with another one of his neo-Ottoman aspirations.