Istanbul mayor to meet with political leaders in anti-Istanbul Canal campaign

Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem İmamoğlu, has asked to meet Turkey’s political party leaders, except President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to discuss the possible damages and dangers the Istanbul Canal project will pose, Ayşe Sayın wrote in BBC Türkçe on Monday.

İmamoğlu intends to turn public opinion against the government’s multi-billion-dollar infrastructure megaproject to build a 50-kilometre-long artificial waterway linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara through Istanbul, according to Sayın.

Erdoğan has called the Istanbul Canal the “project of the century”, however critics of the plan say the president is risking irreversible ecological damage in an attempt to reinvigorate the stuttering construction sector and provide cash for its allies and clients. İmamoğlu has called the bid a “great disaster” that would only be further exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

İmamoğlu will begin talks with Mustafa Destici, leader of the Grand Unity Party, on Thursday, Sayın said.

The Istanbul mayor has also asked to meet with the leaders of the Nationalist Movement Party, The Good Party, the Democratic Peoples’ Party, the Turkish Workers’ Party, the Democratic Party, the Patriotic Party, the Democracy and Progress Party, the Future Party, the Felicity Party and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, of which İmamoğlu is a member.

“We will talk about the position of the channel, which will cause the future of Istanbul to be so unplanned and dragged into such a bad process,” İmamoğlu told Ipek Özbey of Cumhuriyet in an interview published on Monday.

“There will be eight Bosporus bridges on it” he said. “Are these bridges going to be free? Consider about the cost of (building) each bridge.”