At the G20 Leaders Summit hosted by India, India, the USA, Saudi Arabia and the USA agreed on IMEC, a railway and maritime project that will help increase trade, provide energy resources and develop digital connectivity that will connect India to the Middle East and Europe. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), France, Germany, Italy and the European Union.
Experts evaluated Turkey’s possible partnership in this agreement if the corridor, which is expected to contribute to a more stable and prosperous Middle East, a green and digital bridge between continents and civilizations, and the expansion of pipes and transmission lines for electricity and hydrogen exports, is implemented.
Gulf Studies Researcher Dr. Betül Doğan Akkaş said that the project in question is reminiscent of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but differs from it because it promises a transfer of energy, data and environmentally friendly resources.
Stating that the aim of the monarchies in the project may be to establish closeness with the USA, Akkaş pointed out that this could be a balance project for the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Akkaş stated that in the ongoing competition in the Eastern Mediterranean, by making a plan that passes through Greece and Italy, not Turkey, an equation was created in which Ankara was not included in the plan even though the relations improved, and added: “Turkey’s access to the Eastern Mediterranean, especially through energy routes and continental shelf.” “The ongoing political and economic rivalry in Turkey may take a different phase with this corridor. It has not been said that there is such a wish, but Turkey’s involvement in the project could both soften the Eastern Mediterranean rivalry and strengthen Ankara-Gulf relations. Potential changes in the project could have major regional consequences.” made his assessment.
Akkaş also pointed out the importance of the question of “how realistic will this corridor be” and said, “The port legs of the project may be welcomed more positively in terms of its economic results, but the India corridor may not deliver the projection it promises, especially in the part involving the Gulf states.” said.
“Turkey’s absence from the table is one of the issues that need to be resolved”
Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University, Department of Finance, Professor. Dr. Şafak Ertan Çomaklı also stated that the main objectives of IMEC are to provide a reliable and economical railway network that will complement the existing sea and land transportation routes for the transit of goods and services between India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Europe, and to encourage new investments. He said the aim is to support economic growth, facilitate clean energy development and exports, and strengthen food security and supply chains.
Pointing out that IMEC has similar goals with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Çomaklı said:
“Both projects have some difficulties for developing countries. In order for the project to be successfully implemented, infrastructure projects, geopolitical obstacles, financial commitments and diplomatic negotiations that require coordination between countries must be resolved. Turkey opposes the IMEC project to disable itself in its current form and “It encourages trade corridors. Turkey is in a geostrategic position in terms of regional power and trade and energy corridors, and also has an important place in the European market. Therefore, the fact that Turkey, the key country in the region, is not at the table is one of the issues that need to be solved.”
“Türkiye may want to be a partner in the agreement”
Hebrew University of Jerusalem International Relations Expert Dr. Yonatan Freeman also said that the planned corridor has the potential to increase the economic and political importance of the relevant regions connecting the European and Asian continents.
Freeman evaluated that the agreement could bring Israel closer to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Muslim and Arab world, as well as affect Israel’s relations with these countries, which are seen as a coalition against Russia and China.
Emphasizing that this agreement can support NATO’s efforts to protect the nearby waters in the Mediterranean and other places due to the increase in traveling ships, Freeman said, “When it comes to security, Turkey may have taken part in more of these missions due to its NATO membership. Turkey has new economic opportunities thanks to this agreement.” “and may want to be a partner in this agreement in the future.” he said.
Corridor evaluation from Erdoğan
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in his statement, said, “There is no corridor without Turkey. Turkey is an important production and trade base. The most suitable line for traffic from east to west has to pass through Turkey.” he said.
Details of the agreement
IMEC will consist of two separate corridors: the eastern corridor connecting India to West Asia/Middle East and the northern corridor connecting West Asia/Middle East to Europe.
The project also envisages that the corridor, which will extend from India to the UAE, then pass through Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel and connect to Europe, will send goods loaded from India to Europe faster through the ports of Israel and Greece.
According to the Global Gateway plan, which was created as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative in 2022, the EU announced that it would provide 300 billion euros in resources for infrastructure investments of developing countries by 2027.
If the project is implemented, the current route used in product trade between India and Europe will be shortened by approximately 40 percent.