Turkish opposition’s ‘mega city’ plan under attack

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– Leading government figures criticize plan for new city to boost Turkish economy.

ANKARA – Several leading figures in Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party on Friday took aim at the main opposition party’s election plan to boost Turkey’s economy with a $200 billion “mega city”.

On Thursday, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu unveiled the plan to build a new Anatolian city that would become an economic and energy hub between East and West.

The project, to be completed by 2035, would add $147 billion to the Turkish economy and create 2.2 million new jobs, Kilicdaroglu said. The city would hold a population of 3 million, making it the fourth largest in Turkey, and would be powered by renewable energy.

Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, in charge of economic policy, derided the scheme as a “pipe dream”.

“As term president of the G20 as well as a person who knows how projects progress in each country and which economic program gives what kind of results, I did not understand this project,” he said.

Industry Minister Fikri Isik described the project as “eccentric”.

He added: “Pledging to establish new cities rather than empowering existing ones can only be the project of the CHP. The need of Turkey is not the establishment of a new city, Turkey’s need is to reveal the potential of our existing cities.”

Trade Minister Nurettin Canikli claimed the government had created 1.4 million new jobs last year and referred to the plan as a “dwarf project”.

Kilicdaroglu, who said the program would help Turkey become one of the top 20 economies in the world, dismissed the criticism as unfocused.

“They can’t say this project is mistaken or unfeasible, can they?” he said. “They can’t and this is the important thing. As long as they can’t say the project is unfeasible or wrong, I will stomach all of their critiques.”

Turkey’s general election is to be held on June 7.

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