İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has announced that his municipality has withdrawn its support for a protocol governing the construction of Canal İstanbul, a longtime dream of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Canal İstanbul Cooperation Protocol was signed by the former mayor of İstanbul, who was a member of Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
İmamoğlu was elected mayor of İstanbul in a repeat election held on June 23, ending AKP rule in city for more than 15 years.
Canal İstanbul, which Erdoğan dubbed his “crazy project,” is an artificial sea-level waterway bisecting the European side of İstanbul to connect the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean, scheduled to be completed by 2023.
İmamoğlu announced on Monday that the municipality informed the Environment Ministry and the Transportation Ministry about its withdrawal of support from the Canal İstanbul Cooperation Protocol.
A strong critic of the project, İmamoğlu said: “I will continue to pray [that this project not be implemented]. May God give some reason to those who defend this project.”
Canal İstanbul has been on the government’s agenda since 2011, but its realization has been delayed several times due to financial problems and environmental concerns.
Environmentalists have voiced serious concerns about the artificial channel, arguing that the seaway will damage underground water sources in İstanbul and will threaten the Marmara Sea along with other social and urbanization risks.