UPDATE – Erdogan: Turkey to reach new heights in 2020


By Gozde Bayar

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey is all set to reach new heights in 2020 by protecting its rights, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday.

“Through strengthening production, export and employment rate and protecting our rights on the international front, especially in the Mediterranean region, we are opening doors of a new rising period,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the Annual Evaluation Meeting for 2019 at Bestepe National Congress and Culture Center in Ankara.

Erdogan stressed that this year Turkey will demonstrate its historic achievements for its freedom and future regardless of the circumstances.

Underlining that the attacks on Turkey have unprecedentedly increased in recent years, he said, Turkey will continue to frustrate those who expected it to surrender in 2019.

– Mega projects

He added that Turkey completed 1,161 projects out of 1,451 in its 2019 action plan.

Highlighting the mega projects in Istanbul, Erdogan also touched on the newly-built mega-Istanbul Airport.

He said they planned to open the second phase of the first stage of the airport in June.

The Istanbul Airport, whose first phase officially opened in October 2018, took over air traffic from the former main Ataturk Airport on April 6.

The airport is projected to serve 200 million passengers annually with a full capacity after the completion of all four phases with six runways by 2028.

Referring to the maritime traffic in Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait, Erdogan underlined the importance of building a new canal.

“It is not possible to prevent maritime traffic in Bosphorus legally, economically and socially. The only solution is to build an alternative canal,” he added.

The planned 45-kilometer (nearly 28-mile) canal to be built west of the city center on the European side of the Istanbul province, aims to boost the city's marine through-traffic capacity.

The mega-project, which aims to prevent risks posed by vessels carrying dangerous shipments through the Bosphorus Strait, was approved by the country's Environment and Urbanization Ministry.

– Tourism

Praising the number of tourists visiting Turkey in 2019, Erdogan said Turkey aims to increase health tourism.

He said the number of tourists coming for health services reached 470,000 by the end of November 2019.

Regarding the country’s counter-terror operations, Erdogan said Turkey neutralized a total of 1,250 YPG/PKK terrorists and prevented dozens of terrorist activities.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.