Main opposition Republican’s People Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that any loans made to Turkey by international investors in Kanal İstanbul, a proposed artificial sea-level waterway in İstanbul, will not be repaid, posting a message in four languages on Twitter.
Kılıçdaroğlu first posted a tweet in Turkish addressed to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and “anyone who has an eye on Turkey’s money and its natural environment,” but particularly targeting Deutsche Bank, the main backer of the project, saying “the loans will not be repaid by the Treasury.”
“Institutions that fund the Kanal Istanbul project, which is contrary to the interests of my nation and world climate policy, will not receive reimbursement from the treasury of Turkey. Compensation will also be sought for any destruction of our Nature that the project will cause,” the main opposition leader tweeted in English, German, French and Arabic.
Institutions that fund the Kanal Istanbul project, which is contrary to the interests of my nation and world climate policy, will not receive reimbursement from the treasury of Turkey. Compensation will also be sought for any destruction of our Nature that the project will cause.
— Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (@kilicdarogluk) June 30, 2021
Opposition parties have recently been declaring that they will stop funding the project when they come to power in an effort to dissuade potential investors in Erdoğan’s “crazy project,” which is planned to bisect the European side of İstanbul to connect the Black Sea to the Marmara and Mediterranean seas.
During the groundbreaking ceremony of Kanal İstanbul in late June, Erdoğan had harshly criticized the opposition parties’ position, saying: “They are threatening investors and banks and even countries interested in this project. They’ll take their money by force [if necessary] via international arbitration.”
While Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government claim the channel is necessary for the safety of İstanbul’s Bosporus Strait, which sees busy marine traffic, critics of the project argue it is aimed at generating money for pro-AKP circles and will damage the environment and could even worsen the earthquake risk in the city of more than 15 million people.
The plans to construct the canal have also opened up a debate about Turkey’s commitment to the 1936 Montreux Convention, which is aimed at demilitarizing the Black Sea by setting strict commercial and naval rules on passage through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits leading to the Mediterranean.
Reuters reported in late April, citing four senior bankers, that some of Turkey’s biggest banks are reluctant to finance Erdoğan’s plan due to environmental concerns and the investment risks surrounding the massive construction project.
Six Turkish banks, including Garanti Bank, İş Bank and Yapı Kredi, have signed the UN’s Principles for Responsible Banking framework, which calls on signatories to avoid harming people and the planet and implement steps to achieve that goal.
Erdoğan formerly underlined that his AKP government would build Kanal İstanbul “despite” the critics.