Turkey opposition unveils plan to build new \'mega-city\' in Anatolia
ISTANBUL - Turkey's main opposition party on Thursday unveiled a plan to build a new mega-city in the centre of the country, in a bid to outflank the ambitious infrastructure projects of the ruling party ahead of elections.
Seeking not to be outdone by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's self-proclaimed "crazy projects", the Republican People's Party (CHP) said the new city would create 2.2 million new jobs over the next two decades.
"The project would give a great push to the Turkish economy and would make our country an economic actor in the region that cannot be ignored," the CHP's leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said in Istanbul.
He said that the new city would eventually have 3 million inhabitants and could start working as soon as 2020.
At a crossroads between Europe and Asia, the city would be the "project of the century", Kilicdaroglu said.
In order to realise the project, $160 billion in foreign and Turkish investments would be needed over the next 20 years, he added.
Kilicdaroglu did not give the precise location of the new city but said it would be at the geographical heart of Turkey which would put it in Anatolia east of Ankara.
The CHP, of modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, has consistently failed to make inroads at elections after the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) swept to power in 2002 polls.
Polls show that the AKP is almost certain to again win the most seats in the June 7 legislative polls but the CHP is hoping to erode its majority and prevent it grabbing the constitutional majority it wants to create a presidential system in Turkey.
Erdogan, who co-founded the AKP and served over a decade as premier before becoming president in 2014, has put ambitious infrastructure projects at the heart of his drive for a "new Turkey".
The authorities have already built a metro line underneath the Bosphorus between Europe and Asia in Istanbul and are now promising a third airport in the city and an ultra-fast train line that will reduce travel time to Ankara to just 1.5 hours.