Wednesday, 25 May 2011

PM unveils AK Party projects to make Ankara ‘world capital'

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday announced a series of projects planned by his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) for Ankara which, according to the prime minister, will make the capital an example for the world.

The prime minister unveiled the plans during a speech at the Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO). Although he was expected to reveal one “crazy project” for Ankara as he did for İstanbul, Erdoğan announced a package of projects. The prime minister said some of these projects are already under way while others will be launched in the short and long terms.

“Thanks to these projects, we will make Ankara an exemplary capital for the world and boost its recognition,” he said. Among the leading projects Erdoğan proposed is making Ankara one of the most important defense industry centers of the world, a long-term project he says. Noting that Turkey's defense industry production increased by more than 100 percent between 2004 and 2010, he said 80 percent of this production is met by companies based in Ankara. “As of 2016, at least $6 billion of the prospected $8 billion turnover of the Turkish defense industry will be that of Ankara companies,” Erdoğan said. The prime minister said a radar production facility will be established by Aselsan as well as a space and satellite center by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in Ankara.

Another project Erdoğan announced is the construction of a new courthouse in Ankara similar to the one recently constructed in İstanbul. “We will build a new courthouse for Ankara just as we did for İstanbul and other provinces,” the prime minister said.

He also pledged to turn Ankara into a “national and international health center.” Erdoğan said two giant “city hospitals” will be built in Ankara, one in Etlik and the other in Bilkent.

Another plan Erdoğan's AK Party has in mind is the construction of a football stadium with a capacity of 40,000 seats. The prime minister said this stadium would be entirely designed in accordance with UEFA criteria.

New city for Ankara

Prime Minister Erdoğan, who earlier vowed to construct two new cities in İstanbul province, one being on the European side, the other on the Anatolian side, announced on Wednesday that he also plans to build a new city in Ankara province as well.

“We will build a new city with a population of 500,000, Güneykent [South City], in Ankara. Just as with the İstanbul project, we will transfer the residents of suburbs to this city if they agree to the move,” Erdoğan said. He noted that the construction of this new city will also start after the June 12 parliamentary elections together with those in İstanbul.

Erdoğan listed a series of other plans for Ankara during Wednesday's speech, including constructing the Ankara Fair and Congress Center, a national botanical garden and the biggest zoo in the Middle East. He also said the government plans to build new facilities making use of the thermal resources of many Ankara districts, such as Güdül and Beypazarı, in order to transform the province into the “capital of thermal health tourism.”

Ankara will also serve as a transportation hub, Erdoğan said. He noted that a high-speed train line between Ankara and Eskişehir is open while another one, between Ankara and Konya, was recently completed and is currently in the testing phase. “Construction of the line between Ankara and Sivas is ongoing. We are also set to begin the construction of a line connecting Ankara with İzmir. Ankara will be the central station of high-speed train lines,” he said.

The prime minister also vowed to construct three new highways: Ankara-Samsun, Ankara-Niğde and Ankara-İzmir.

Erdoğan's plans for Ankara follow the announcement of his projects for İstanbul. The prime minister last month unveiled his long-awaited “crazy project” to build a new waterway in İstanbul province. Erdoğan did not make the project's exact location and its cost clear, but it is expected to stretch between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara near Silivri and Çatalca, the two westernmost districts of İstanbul province.

The project is expected to take the entire naval transportation burden off the Bosporus. Erdoğan later announced his plans to build two new cities in the province that will be resistant to earthquakes, a major challenge to İstanbul. He said one will be built along the Black Sea coast on the European side while the other will be built on the Anatolian side, without mentioning the exact locations of the new cities.