CHP’s lunge to the center

The main opposition party finally revealed its much-awaited special commitment, if elected as the government in the upcoming election.
The ambitious project basically aims to create a logistics hub in Central Anatolia to materialize more effectively Turkeyand’s position at the intersection of the major global trade routes.
The exact location of this project, dubbed and”Merkez Tandurkiyeand” (Turkey Center), was not disclosed in the presentation by the leader of the Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kiliandcdaroilu, but both the trailer to promote it and Kiliandcdaroiluand’s statements indicated that it will be somewhere in the joint hinterlands of the provinces of Malatya, Kayseri and Sivas. This sub-region inside Anatolia boasts a strong industrial infrastructure and is very close to other industrial powerhouses of the region. It is also in geographic proximity to the ports of Mersin and iskenderun.
The details and provisions of the project will surely be well stipulated in news stories on media outlets, so I will skip going through them extensively here. I would rather discuss the implications of this project economically, technically and politically.
The first thing to concentrate on is the feasibility and the practicality of the project. Is it doable? It envisages spending the hefty amount of $200 billion in total in a public-private partnership scheme until 2035. An average of $10 billion per year for a country like Turkey is not a big deal, but in any case, it has to resort to international institutions that provide funding for such infrastructure feats. For a similar project, for instance, China led the formation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in October 2014 with the countries involved in its One Belt One Road (OBOR) project. Turkey is also among the AIIBand’s prospective founding members. There are two more similar projects, namely the Kunming-Singapore Railway and the Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA). For the latter, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) has declared support.
The CHP does not hide the fact that Turkey Center is indeed a Turkish version of OBOR and the other projects. What I understood from Kiliandcdaroiluand’s presentation is that Turkey Center will not be a rival to them, especially OBOR, but will work as a complementary project, and will likely aim to tap the coffers of the AIIB. But the AIIBand’s resources may not be rich enough to suffice for both OBOR and Turkey Center. The AIIBand’s authorized capital will be $100 billion, and the initial subscribed capital will be half this amount.
Turkey may knock on the doors of the World Bank (WB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for finances as well. But in any case, financing will be one of the most serious challenges for the implementation of this project, especially considering the ambiguities concerning liquidity conditions in the coming years while the global economy is still reeling and major economies are desperately ensnared in a stubborn economic slowdown.
Turkey Center has another implication, which is more urgent and more relevant to the evolution of the Turkish political landscape. For the first time in its history, the CHP has adopted a stance of positive opposition by distancing itself from the position of being the defender of the regimeand’s ideology, getting closer the center of the political spectrum and directly touching the first-hand needs and demands of the people in the center. This is actually the real Turkey Center project and it marks a big shift in the domestic political arena.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was designed as a catch-all party at its inception, without representing any particular ideology in its charter, and it addressed the expectations of the masses traditionally represented by the center-right parties. The CHP defined itself on the left-wing and was looking down on the majority with a sense of superiority. Assuming a status of being the privileged pillar of the state, the CHP was performing in politics on the basis of the founding principles of the republic. But in this election, with promises like Turkey Center, a 50 percent raise in the minimum wage and premium payments for pensioners twice a year, it has started to act like a center-right party. Concurrently, the AK Party, seriously wounded by allegations of corruption, left a void there by marginalizing its rhetoric and blatantly attempting to destroy democratic institutions.
The CHP will most likely fail to form a single-party government and may therefore never be able to put this Turkey Center plan into action. Nevertheless, the project is ambitious, strategic, necessary, somewhat feasible and certainly in line with global developments. It has to be done soon if we donand’t want to see something like an andquotIran Center.andquot And beyond that, Turkey Center and the popular commitments indicate a change in the nature of the CHPand’s way of doing politics.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman