"In order to implement such a large-scale project as construction of the Istanbul Canal, it was necessary to establish an authoritarian regime as this canal is not traditional for Turkey. At the present moment the individual rule in the country has allowed to implement the project. It involves not just opening of a new water artery, but construction of ports, bridges and other offshore facilities, including residential housing, trade centers and other infrastructure", this is how international and Turkish-Russian relations expert Dr. Kerim Has explained why it had taken so many years to begin construction of such massive project during the "Expert's Opinion" show today, on August 5.
104 retired admirals wrote a letter criticizing the construction of the Istanbul Canal in April of 2021, which sparked a massive public outcry in the country. The construction of the canal forced the global community to discuss provisions of the Montreux Convention because the project would create a new geopolitical reality. It is not in the interests of Turkey to review the convention, however, influence of certain non-Black Sea countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, on the discussion of its provisions should be taken into account.
"The biggest problem of the Istanbul Canal is its return on investment by the Turkish population. The government does not need it from an economic point of view as it does not serve its interests, but it does serve the interests of part of the leadership and the President's circle of close business associates", believes Has.
According to Has, the Turkish government compares the Istanbul Canal to the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal, however, it does not provide any benefits. Since the construction of the Istanbul Canal will require around 30 and, according to certain assessments, 80 billion US dollars, in order to receive return on investment the price to pass through the canal will have to be raised by 20-30 times, which is not cost effective. The expert thinks that the budget provided by the government should be spent to strengthen and prepare Istanbul for a probable earthquake expected by seismologists in the coming years.
After the canal is built, Russia might face certain serious issues. The first one is related to climate: the canal will cause environmental changes not only in Istanbul, but in all of the Black Sea region. And the second is that, according to experts, potential changes in the Montreux Convention will not be in the interests of Russia. Has believes that an additional agreement should be made between Russia and Turkey stating that the regime established within the framework of the convention will not change in the future.
A recording of the show is available on the YouTube channel of the Gorchakov Fund.