The Istanbul Canal project has been a longtime aspiration of Erdogan, as he previously served as the mayor of the metropolis. The $9.8-billion project seeks to construct a 28-mile canal linking the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara to relieve shipping pressure off the Bosphorus.
"Sometime in late June, we will lay the first stone in the construction of the Istanbul Canal. Of course, some are concerned about this mega-project. But this will not stop us," Erdogan said during his speech in Istanbul, which was broadcast on Twitter.
According to the president, the implementation of the project will increase the strategic importance of the Turkish metropolis.
"You will see six bridges over the canal. Two cities will be built on both banks of the new artificial waterway, they will decorate the appearance of Istanbul," Erdogan explained.
Turkish Environment and Urban Planning Minister Murat Kurum announced earlier that Ankara had approved the plan for the construction of the Istanbul Canal. Erdogan stated that the Montreux Convention, which gives Turkey control over the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits and regulates the transit of naval warships, would not apply to the projected Istanbul Canal.