As newly elected President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan is sitting on the highest throne, with many of his countrymen worshipping the politician. Hardly in office, he obviously intends erecting his own monument by assigning the new airport at the Black Sea his own name – “Istanbul Erdogan Havalimani.”
When being asked about the name of the future mega airport near the Black Sea Erdogan in his role as key speaker at the ground-breaking ceremony refused any comment. This was in June, when construction work for building the six runways comprising giant hub began. Ever since, the naming of the future airport has been a carefully guarded secret by the government. Until the polling stations closed their doors last Sunday, with Erdogan winning the race for becoming Turkey’s new president. Only 48 hours after the 60-year old authoritarian AKP party leader had triumphed over his rivals, government sources unofficially and with hands covering their mouths began spreading the message that there are “good chances” the Black Sea airport will be named after the new President elect – Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey’s Transport Minister Lutfi Elvan told the media how grateful the government is “that Mr. Erdogan has brought us economic growth and political stability during his reign of over twelve years as Prime Minister.” Therefore, “it is now up to us to pay something back and do him good in the best manner possible.”
To become his countrymen’s figure of light would surely be enjoyed by the power-conscious politician who already has ensured that all official school books must display his picture instead of the image of the nation’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Even if government circles started their unofficial PR campaign to influence the public mood for naming the Black Sea airport ‘Istanbul Erdogan Havalimani’, the designation might still last some time since the project is highly controversial. There are many Erdogan critics that oppose his authoritarian political course based on a conservative Islamic doctrine and who shudder at the thought that the mammoth airport will bear the name of their political enemy. Next to mention are the environmentalists that try to prevent the felling of thousands of trees and the destruction of a natural habitat. They suggest enlarging the existing Sabiha Gokcen airport on the Asian side of the Marmara Sea instead of building a third Istanbul airport.
Despite all of the resistance it is apparent that the airport project will be finalized according to the master plan set up by the Turkish government. And as things stand it appears highly unlikely that the new airport which can accommodate up to 150 million passengers per year once completed and enable a throughput of 5 million-plus tons of cargo will not be named Erdogan International or alike.