Turkey infrastructure

Major infrastructure projects in Turkey are seldom less than controversial and the ground breaking ceremony for the third bridge over Istanbul’s Bosphorus straits held this week was guaranteed to spark protests even before the announcement that it was to be named after one of the Ottoman Empire’s less enlightened leaders, Sultan Yavuz Selim, known in the west as “Selim the Grim”. 

At first sight the figures are staggering. In the space of a single day last week Turkey signed an agreement on a $22bn new nuclear power plant and concluded a €22bn tender on building Istanbul one of the biggest airports on the world.

No wonder there were proclamations about record-breaking investments as soon as last Friday’s announcements were made. 

Turkey’s ambitious privatisation programme scored another significant success Friday with the successful sale of four more of the country’s regional power distribution companies for a total of $3.46bn.

The sale of the four was completed after more than six hours of open bidding between 16 companies. 

Turkey begins this week with two important developments for investors, officials and ordinary citizens. One is that the country now no longer faces the prospect of being suspended or blacklisted from an international financial body. The other is that a showpiece privatisation has been halted by order of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured). 

Plans to proceed with a gigantic infrastructure project; a decision to dispense with the services of an international ratings agency; forecasts of continued growth – there is no mistaking that Turkey has kicked off the new year in bullish fashion.

The country’s headlines are currently dominated by the aftermath of the execution-style murder in Paris of three female activists of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers party, or PKK. But the context even for this is not unremittingly grim. 

Two of Turkey’s biggest, most complicated and controversial infrastructure projects came closer to becoming reality on Friday. Ankara said it was in talks with a Canadian company over a nuclear power plant and also confirmed it had attracted four bidders to build a new bridge over the Bosphorus.