Red Alert: Prime Minister Erdoğan’s Kanal Istanbul Threatens International Ecology!

by Tarık Günersel    /  October 25, 2013  / 6 Comments

Some scientists argue that Erdoğan’s project will severely harm the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

Two proposed routes

Regardless of whether either of these routes, or another one, are chosen for Kanal Istanbul, it remains a dangerous project for both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Photo: Courtesy of Tarık Günersel.

The Turkish government, controlled by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has announced that it will soon begin construction on Kanal Istanbul, a canal project announced by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2011.

Istanbul is on both the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus, which is a natural channel that connects the Black Sea to the Marmara, Aegean, and Mediterranean Seas.

  1. Wor(l)ds in Danger, a<br />
column by Tarik Günersel
  2. Life is words in action, literature is action in words.
    Humans are about to destroy their spaceship Earth. Some of them are aware of this and they try to change the course of events. Will they succeed? Will more humans be alarmed and do something?
    Literature is vital and translators are messengers of world peace.
    Though I shall focus on the literary scene in Turkey and its problems regarding freedom of expression, I shall not omit the other parts of our planet. Today local is global and vice versa.
  3. Tarik Günersel
  4. Tarık Günersel is a poet, playwright, aphorist, librettist and short story writer. He is the president of PEN Turkey and an ex-member of the PEN International Board. He studied English Literature at Istanbul University. A self-exile after the military coup in 1980, he spent four years in Saudi Arabia with his wife Füsun and their daughter Barış, teaching English. A dramaturg at Istanbul City Theater since 1991, he has acted on stage and screen and directed some of his plays. He proposed World Poetry Day in 1997 which was accepted by PEN International and declared by UNESCO as the 21st of March. His translations into Turkish include works by Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel and Arthur Miller. His works include The Nightmare of a Labyrinth (mosaic of poems and stories), and How’s your slavery goin’? His Oluşmak (To Become), a “life guide for myself,” includes ideas from world wisdom of the past four millennia.

The proposed channel will be constructed somewhere in Thrace, between the Bosphorus and the city of Edirne, which is near the Bulgarian and Greek borders of Turkey. Two possible routes for the channel have been mapped so far, but neither of them has been declared the official route.

Two scientists, Cemal Saydam of Hacettepe University and Etham Gönenç of Istanbul Technical University, have reported the terrible consequences of Erdogan’s canal:

-The new channel will increase the salinity of the Marmara Sea and severely decrease its oxygen levels.

-Lack of oxygen will end marine life in the Marmara Sea. It is predicted that the Marmara and Bosphorus will suffer from the smell of sulphur. In time the ecology of the Black Sea will also be harmed.

-The part of Thrace that lies between the new channel and the Bosphorus will become an island. The underground water sources that exist there will be replaced by sea water.

- Once put in place, the Kanal Istanbul will be irreversible. The AKP government controls mainstream media and misinforms the public about the project, but its dangerous impact is not limited to the people of Turkey. It will have international effects. Other countries on the Black and the Mediterranean Seas should protest this project.

Turkey’s Minister of Transportation and Communication, Binali Yıldırım, has refrained from mentioning any critical scientific reports. He merely mentions that the channel project is not incompatible with the Montreux Convention.

Now is the time for international scientific and environmental communities to join forces against this hazardous project, pushed by PM Erdoğan and his AKP-controlled government.

About the Author

Tarık Günersel is a poet, playwright, aphorist, librettist and short story writer. He is the president of PEN Turkey and an ex-member of the PEN International Board. He studied English Literature at Istanbul University. A self-exile after the military coup in 1980, he spent four years in Saudi Arabia with his wife Füsun and their daughter Barış, teaching English. A dramaturg at Istanbul City Theater since 1991, he has acted on stage and screen and directed some of his plays. He proposed World Poetry Day in 1997 which was accepted by PEN International and declared by UNESCO as the 21st of March. His translations into Turkish include works by Samuel Beckett, Vaclav Havel and Arthur Miller. His works include The Nightmare of a Labyrinth (mosaic of poems and stories), and How’s your slavery goin’? His Oluşmak (To Become), a “life guide for myself,” includes ideas from world wisdom of the past four millennia. He has recently initiated the Earth Civilization Project with the support of several intellectuals from various parts of the planet.

View all articles by Tarık Günersel

6 Comments on "Red Alert: Prime Minister Erdoğan’s Kanal Istanbul Threatens International Ecology!"

  1. Hakan Soylu December 4, 2013 at 7:08 am ·

    Typical social conservatives wording. This channel will be great advantage of Turkey, because currently Turkey doesn’t have total control over Bosphorus due to Montreux Agreement

  2. Jeremy Myers December 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm ·

    Hakan, how about not sucking up to your dictator and actually caring about your country. Your words are typical of uneducated selfish people.

    Montreux Agreement is not the issue. It is the money that will be made from real estate for Erdogan’s friends. Grow up and open your eyes.

  3. Osman Haluk ARABACI December 6, 2013 at 6:15 am ·

    Dear Jeremy,

    We are happy with our prime minister. We grow up already we know that for sure , your advises are always against our interests

  4. Baran Yıldız December 6, 2013 at 7:27 pm ·

    Dear Hakan and Osman,
    Yes you are happy with your prime minister.. and with your ignorance .. and with your dreams about strong Turkey by a brand new neo-Ottoman identity.. same shitty story goes over&over all around the world just filling the blanks with different names (like strong Japan with Abe, reconsiling with the historical heritage bla bla..) and this evil Erdoğan has a perfect cause using Montreux agreement, so Turkey will benefit anymore from the critical position of connecting black sea and marmara.. Actually turkey still charges ships and remakably profits with in pilot ships and such etc.. This is a ecological suicide but i know it’s impossible to explain it to you. Hell yeah.. for strong Turkey keep on moving boys!.. tail behind your Imam.

  5. Ashtroq December 7, 2013 at 5:08 am ·

    This project has too many troubling issues, from ecology to dictatorship. There is no “we” to speak of, because representation of the people in the parliament is corrupted beyond imagination. In fact, there is no parliament, our congress it is literally called “The Turkish Grand National Assembly” but there is no such assembly. There is a group of people, who were suppressed in the past because of their extreme ideas of religion, very much so, now the resulting complex human behaviour of them, turned in to some sort of a pissing contest. They have the power now, but clueless about what to do with it or how to use it properly. They act like they know what they’re doing, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s merely a man-made operation, even at its best. They seem like they have completely forgotten, ignored and denied the female (“Rahim”) in their men world (“Rahman”).

    So, basically, they are lost in spacetime, creating a humongous bad karma upon themselves, completely detached from the core idea of the Kur’an, replicating the very actions of the ancient Tyrants of Egypt, ignoring the first fact that we are nothing but One.
    I sense that, in a manner of a parent, sometimes, you just need to let the children ruin and make a mess with what they have.

    After all, humans are the best when it comes to turning a wonderful, beautiful planet of heaven in to a living hell.

    Sometimes, that is the only way for them to learn their lessons.

    The lives that they hurt along the way, the glasses that were broken, the hearts that bleed, can never be undone. It may be a way for us to learn basic the rules of this life; breaking it and realizing after that it is not going to be whole ever again. The smoke of a gas that dissolves in to air, can never be back in. They hurt actual people who lives in their city, just as a show off of their ‘strength’, while their posture is crouched, faces hardened up with hate, smiles lacking compassion, hiding what’s inside. They hurt people, they let some people hurt other people, in the name of ‘order’.

    ‘Truth’ contains all the facts, which is infinite, therefore, incomprehensible for us. We can only get a glimps of what is ‘True’. In order to judge, we should have ALL the facts. So, judging is not set out for humans.
    But still, I think it’s safe to foresee , even from a physicist’s point of view, that this kind of a mass of an energy, must have equivalent results and consequences.
    We will all be responsible for our own actions.

    I’m sure, there are ways to play this game, without a harm. There are ways to a balanced state where everything can breathe, live, love, freely, happily, equally. I sincerely don’t care who is in charge since the idea of this is quite inclusionary. People in this kind of governmental power needs to get this idea, that’s all. They’all need to sit down and read an explanatory and broadly extended edition of Kuran-ı Kerim, and read it back to front. Maybe then, they’d stop trying to seperate lands to feel powerful and go out and dig a hole in their own garden.

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