İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on Wednesday said that given the opportunity he would be able to persuade President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to abort the Kanal İstanbul project, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported.
“If he would call [for a meeting], I’d love to go and talk to him. I’m sure he’d be convinced,” İmamoğlu said on a TV program. “He should give me the opportunity.”
Kanal İstanbul is an artificial sea-level waterway bisecting İstanbul’s European side to connect the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean, scheduled to be completed by 2023.
First announced in 2011 by then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, the project is meant to provide relief to shipping traffic through the Bosporus, particularly oil tankers.
Critics have argued, however, that the project will adversely affect the environment and put İstanbul’s water supply in danger.
İmamoğlu, who defeated Erdoğan’s nominee as the opposition candidate in the mayoral race in İstanbul last year, has described the project as “treason against the city.”
He recently held a press conference during which he outlined 15 reasons to oppose the project.