Current ‘New Silk Road’ Projects in Turkey
China’s New Silk Road, the Belt and Road initiative is one of the key economic developments in the global economy in the past decade. Turkey is an important part of this initiative as a prime destination in the ‘middle corridor’. The middle corridor passes through Georgia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan. It holds extreme strategic and economic importance for the BRI project. In 2015, Turkey and China signed an MoU with a deal to focus on integrating the Belt and Road and Middle Corridor Initiatives. China’s contribution to Turkey has been focused on mostly infrastructure-related activities. Let’s take a look at some of the important projects undertaken under the new Silk Road initiative.
Turkey is currently developing the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway and is working on the modernization of its entire railway system. It is expected that its passenger and cargo capacity will double over the next decade. Currently, it can carry 1 million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo yearly. The idea is for Turkey to obtain a solid network and gain influence in Asia and the Mediterranean.
It is also expected that the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad railway corridor’s services will be revived soon. It is being seen as an alternative to other Silk Road routes. Turkey’s importance in transportation is being realized and developed.
Development of Ports
There has been stress on the development of ports, namely Filyos, Candarli and Mersin. Filyos opened in 2020 and is currently the third-largest port in Turkey. Turkey’s largest port is Mersin. In the coming year, its capacity will be increased from 2.8 million to 3.6 million TEU. These ports are being developed mainly to ease relationships with the Middle East and the Black Sea. About Candarli, IMEAK Chamber of Shipping Chairperson Ozturk has said, “Çandarlı, the vision project of our country, will be an important transfer center in the Belt and Road Project with its Southeast Europe and the Black Sea connections.’ Investments will also be made via China in the Izmir ports. It is expected that maritime transportation will be the backbone of the Silk Road, which is why China is placing a lot of emphasis on port development. Beijing has made sure Turkey will become an indispensable part of its new Silk Road initiative. As an important strategic location, the two need to strengthen ties for their benefit.
Recently, Turkey has asked for financial assistance from China to build the Canal Istanbul – a highly risky but prolific project. If China agrees, it will allow it a great stake in the economic conduct of the country and bring in huge benefits for the economic giant. The cooperation between China and Turkey has only begun, but several significant projects have already been set up. The new Silk Road is bound to see a lot of similar developments in the coming years. It is left to see how this partnership will pan out.