Erdogan says India-Gulf transport corridor won't work with Turkey exclusion

Erdogan says India-Gulf transport corridor won't work with Turkey exclusion
India could be soon linked to the Mediterranean through a massive transport corridor, via the Gulf states and Israel, but this has brought criticism from Turkey.
3 min read
12 September, 2023
Erdogan has slammed the new India-Middle East transport corridor [Getty]

An ambitious transport corridor that could soon link India to the eastern Mediterranean region will not work without Turkey's inclusion, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

The route - known as the India–Middle East–Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) - will use railways and shipping routes to enable India to access European and Arab markets and Gulf oil more easily.

It will also facilitate communication and energy links via electrical cables and green energy pipelines between Greece and India, a distance of around 5,000km.

Erdogan has criticised the plan for excluding Turkey with the route instead including India, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and potentially extending to Jordan and Israel. 

"We say that there is no corridor without Turkey," Erdogan said at the G20 summit on Sunday.

"Turkey is an important production and trade base. The most convenient line for traffic from east to west has to pass through Turkey."

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A memorandum of understanding on the multinational rail and ports deal linking the Middle East and South Asia was signed by the EU, France, India, Italy, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the US, the White House said in a statement on Saturday.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the move, which coincides with US-led efforts to establish a normalisation pact between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The India-Gulf mega-project could be one vehicle for normalisation of ties between Israel and Arab states and also help counter China's growing influence in the region and Belt and Road Initiative, which Turkey is a part of.

The Chinese initiative largely circumvents the Gulf.

Netanyahu welcomed the announcement of the transport corridor hailing it as "tremendous" in a video shared on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Another transport corridor linking the Gulf to Europe is the Iraq Development Road Project, which will pass through Turkey.

The project is supported by Turkey, Qatar, and the UAE and will pass through Iraqi cities such as Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, before entering Turkish territory.

Erdogan said he held talks at the G20 in India this weekend with UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed, who was eager to lay the first foundations for the project, according to the Turkish president.

Iran, Iraq, and Syria are also planning another transport corridor to the eastern Mediterranean.

"The United Arab Emirates is very ready for this job. Qatar is very ready. We are very, very ready for it. I hope we will have taken this step in this way," Erdogan said.