How could someone who rules a country think of threatening his own people with further debts to foreign banks and the opposition to suffer from those debts if they come to power for the sake of making his stay in power continuous?
He wouldn’t, or would he? President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who holds all the executive powers and claims to be “domestic and national” should rather proud of reducing Turkey’s foreign dependency.
However, on June 26, at the groundbreaking ceremony of a bridge construction that he considered as the beginning of his dream project, Kanal Istanbul, Erdoğan was threatening both the public and the opposition, saying, “I will put you in such a debt that if I go, you will hardly pay.” Let’s not talk about how he will pay it himself in the future if he pushes the state into such debt and instead let’s discuss such mentality.
Main opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had previously told journalist Murat Sabuncu at T24 that local and foreign companies that would invest in the Kanal Istanbul project should be aware that they will not pay the dues of the project when they came to power, naming the Erdoğanr’s push for building an artificial waterway to connect the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea a “dead” and “controversial” investment. In his speech on June 26, Erdoğan responded to Kılıçdaroğlu’s threat to foreign banks and companies as follows:
“They are threatening investors and banks, they are threatening the countries that are interested in the project. What impudence! Continuity is essential in states, but they did not learn the state lesson. How do you aspire to rule the country? They will get that money from you this way or another through international arbitration.”
The threatening statement is the last sentence.
The president is threatening the leader of the opposition with lawsuits launched by foreign banks through international arbitration for clearance of the debt that he borrowed.
This reminds one of the Düyun-u Umumi, the Ottoman Public Debt Administration, the European-controlled organization that was established in 1881 to collect the payments which later put a huge debt burden on the shoulders of young Turkey.
Thus, if the nation is ungrateful and does not choose Erdoğan in the election, Turkey and its new rulers will have nowhere to run and foreign banks that will “collect” the debts will undermine the new government!
Fears of losing election
In fact, these statements give a clue about Erdoğan’s fears of losing the next election scheduled for 2023. He has started to discuss the scenarios of Kılıçdaroğlu or someones replacing him. So he means that he will borrow such a debt that only he can payback.
He says the project will be completed in 6 years and will cost $15 billion. However, when the project was first announced, it was announced that the cost would be
$75 billion. (The difference even does not match the Turkish Lira’s three-fold loss against the U.S. dollar since 2011!)
Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu said the canal will pay for itself in 12 years. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said that the bridge construction launched on June 26, was already planned within the scope of a ring road, not Kanal Istanbul. The minister said this was true but it would have been built much smaller if the canal project did not exist.
Will the Kanal Istanbul tender be broadcast live?
Yet another aspect of Erdoğan’s speech, which shows his election anxiety, was his “address to the Z-generation youth”. Why especially the Z-generation – the citizens between the ages of 18 and 26? Because in the 2023 elections, even if it is held at the end of 2022, these young people will make up 16 percent of the voters. The people under 40, who are eligible to go to the ballots, stand for some 40 percent of the voters.
So let’s see how Erdoğan is trying to convince Generation Z?
“I am calling out to our young people, Generation Z. Look, you should know all that happened in the country for the past 19 -20 years, what this government has done. We have not forgotten the anxiety caused by the huge Russian ship that was dragged ashore off Kabataş in the first month of last year.”
It means that Erdoğan thinks he can convince the youth, who are worried about serious education problems, unemployment and most importantly, the future, to Kanal Istanbul project with these words.
The environmental pollution, or sea snot that has taken over the Marmara Sea, threatening the Aegean and Black Seas? Kanal Istanbul will be the solution for him as well, he thinks. Will the Black Sea’s already toxic waters with organic wastes clean the Marmara Sea on the contrary to what scientists say?
Erdoğan attended a ceremony opening of a bridge what he says is part of Kanal Istanbul. But has the tender for the project been made?
Inspired by the “live broadcast of tenders” launched by Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş and Istanbul Mayor İmamoğlu from the CHP ranks, Erdoğan instructed mayors from his ruling Justice and Development Party to hold transparent tenders, but he begins his “dream project” without even holding a tender? Any tenders planned at all?
And a final question: If the Kanal Istanbul tender is ever made, will it be broadcast live on television or will it be transparent?