Turkey tells Russia Istanbul canal will not affect Bosporus governance

Turkey said plans to build a 40-kilometre canal to circumvent the Bosporus straits will not affect the latter’s governance.

The 1936 Montreux Convention on the Bosporus will be preserved, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during talks in Turkey’s southern city of Antalya on Wednesday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Montreux's requirement will also have no effect on Kanal Istanbul, Çavuşoğlu said. Turkey guarantees free passage of ships through the Bosporus under the Montreux Convention and makes a small, limited charge to other vessels such as cargo ships and oil tankers to cover costs.

“Russia is pleased to work with our Turkish colleagues on the implementation of the Montreux agreement,” Lavrov told reporters after the meeting.

Turkey has stirred up domestic and international controversy through plans to build Kanal Istanbul, which will turn a large portion of the city into an island. Environmentalists warn of damage to the region’s ecology, while opposition parties say the waterway, which will cost tens of billions of dollars, is a damaging scheme motivated by profit for construction companies close to the government.