Erdogan: "We will invest $350 BLN in transportation"
Turkey is planning to invest a total of $350 billion over the next 25 years to improve transportation and communications services, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday. Speaking at the opening of the 10th Transportation Council at Istanbul's Haliç (Golden Horn) Congress Center yesterday, Erdogan said that in recent years, air travel has gone from being a luxury to being routine for Turks thanks to steps taken by his Justice and Development (AK Party) government. Stating that they made Sabiha Gokcen Airport operational when the AK Party came to power seven years ago, Erdogan said, "This airport can no longer meet the demand, and we have to construct several new airports in Istanbul." Erdogan added, "There is the need for a third bridge in Istanbul whose construction will not damage the historical and natural texture of the city." Erdogan said the government has started to implement a comprehensive development plan to upgrade the country's standards and boost its competitive power, consolidating its significant place among world economies. Calling the quality, extent and safety of transportation networks such as highway and railway networks the chief indicator of a country's development, Erdogan said the government would determinedly continue its work to improve and extend Turkey's highway and railway networks. He cited the constructions of thousands of kilometers of two-lane highways and the introduction of high-speed train service in recent years as signs of this resolve. Erdogan said Turkey and Istanbul are a gateway between East and West and vice versa, adding that throughout history Turkey has been the main route of trade, migration, culture, philosophy and learning. "Roads link not only countries and cities, but also are bridges of civilization that link societies to each other," he said. Erdogan also talked about government plans to introduce 4G technology to Turkey, following the start of 3G technology this summer. Touching on Turkish-European Union relations, Erdogan urged European leaders to treat Turkey's EU accession negotiations fairly, adding that Turkey is in a far better condition than some EU member states. Accusing European circles opposing Turkey's EU accession of being narrow-minded and suffering from lack of a perspective, Erdogan said, "Turkey should not be assessed under short-term projections. Turkey is experiencing a fast-changing process. It is changing for the development and stability of itself and its region and to help bring peace and stability to the world. It is changing to bring a new vision and strength to the EU. Opponents of Turkey's EU accession bid should evaluate the emerging big picture of Turkey, as the co-chair of the Alliance of Civilizations, and should cast off political prejudices when considering Turkey's prospective full EU membership." Erdogan yesterday also attended the inauguration of an education and research hospital for cardiac and vascular surgery named after Mehmet Akif Ersoy, who wrote the lyrics to Turkey's national anthem.