At the end of 2019, the "dream" project of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the 45-kilometre Istanbul Canal that will cross Istanbul and serve as a double for the Bosphorus strait, finally received approval from the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) eliminating one of the last obstacles in the new canal's path to being implemented.
Turkey expects to resolve several issues pertaining to the Bosphorus strait. Turkish authorities have argued that the strait is overloaded with ships often waiting in a queue to cross the only maritime waterway connecting the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean. In addition, President Erdogan noted that the project will bring profits to Ankara, which is currently forced to charge only minimum fees for vessels passing through the Bosphorus due to its being regulated under the Montreux Convention of 1936.
Despite the EIA's positive assessment of the project its opponents continue to fight it, claiming that the endeavour remains too costly for both the country and for the environment. They argue that the $10 billion price tag for such a canal is "not realistic".
Opponents of the Istanbul Canal received renewed hope in June 2019, when Ekrem Imamoglu from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) came to power as mayor of Istanbul and vowed to oppose the project in any way he can. Imamoglu slammed Erdogan's "dream" canal as a "betrayal of Istanbul" and a "murder project" ditching the cooperation protocol between the city and the country's government on the waterway's construction.
Erdogan, however, dismissed Imamoglu's criticism and stated that Ankara doesn't need the city's approval for a project conceived on a national level.
"Whether they like it or not, Istanbul Canal is being built. We will not allow people without a vision, who have no goals, no love and hope for our country, to dissuade us from doing so", the Turkish president said.