UPDATE 2 – No one can turn Turkey into their backyard: Erdogan


By S.Ahmet Aytac and Nilay Kar Onum

ISTANBUL (AA) – Those, who tried to dominate Turkey over the last century, have been pushed back by the Turkish people, said Turkey’s president on Saturday.

“To those who tried to turn Turkey into their backyard since the Battle of Gallipoli, the War of Independence, and the July 15, 2016 defeated coup, we gave the necessary answer as a nation,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the opening ceremony of the National Gardens in Basaksehir, Istanbul, referring to decisive historic military campaigns and a failed putsch that martyred 251 people.

"One of the commitments in our 100-day performance program was fulfilled today by opening these National Gardens, and the others will be completed one by one," Erdogan added.

"We say that we will build the Istanbul Canal, they say 'We don’t want it,' 'Don’t build it”. We will build it whether you want to or not," he said.

Next year, Turkey plans to launch construction of the Istanbul Canal, an artificial sea-level waterway, and complete it in 2023, according to Turkey’s Transport And Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan.

The canal is meant to provide relief to shipping traffic between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, particularly oil tanker traffic passing through the Bosphorus.

The 45-kilometer (nearly 28-mile) canal, which will be built along Istanbul's Kucukcekmece-Sazlidere-Durusu corridor, is to boast a capacity of 160 vessels a day.

In his speech, Erdogan said that they would also build Turkey’s biggest fairground at Ataturk Airport, which will be closed to commercial flights as of this Dec. 31.

Following the opening of the Basaksehir’s National Garden, using teleconferencing, Erdogan also inaugurated other National Gardens in the neighborhoods of Kayasehir, Hosdere, Baruthane and Cirpici.

Parliament Speaker Binali Yildirim also praised the opening of the new National Gardens, saying: “Cities are the centers of our civilization. All of our efforts are to make our people live a good life.”

– Mawlid al-Nabi Week

Speaking later at the opening ceremony of a celebration week in honor of the Prophet's birthday, Mawlid al-Nabi, Turkish president said the life of Prophet Muhammad set an example for the whole humanity and next generations.

“His life is the best guide not only for his ummah but also for all humanity," Erdogan said.

He underlined the importance of setting a good example for the youth of the country for a bright future.

If we set a good example for the youths, they will not fall into the clutches of terror barons in Qandil and the “charlatan” in Pennsylvania, referring to Fetullah Gulen, the U.S.-based ringleader of Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), Erdogan said.

“The future of a nation, which neglects and turns its back on its youth, and does not pay enough attention to the reconstruction of their souls and hearts, is under threat,” he added.

Speaking about the transformation of Turkey over the past 16 years, the president said that “we live in such a country where freedoms are spoken rather than restrictions and all ideas are expressed freely as long as there is no terror and violence."